With the Democratic Unity coalition’s victory last week in legislative elections, gaining a super majority in the National Assembly, Venezuela enters into a punctuated period of political risk and instability.
Despite accepting last week’s election results President Maduro has claimed the election was a victory for “right wing fascists” and almost immediately threatened opposition lawmakers publicly from making press conferences that could “divide the country”. Even more worryingly with only days to go before the election, 13 Judges from the Supreme Tribunal (Venezuela’s Supreme Court) announced their retirement from the court. Allowing Maduro the unique opportunity to stack the already loyal court with more ardent supporters. This is particularly important as the Supreme Tribunal can overturn legislative policies that prove inconvenient for the President.
Alternatively, others are concerned that outgoing legislators could pass legislation that would effectively divest power from the National Assembly and investing nearly all power in the office of the President. Regardless of these potential strategies Maduro has since his loss last week made it apparent that he will fight the Democratic Unity Coalition key policies and has shown no signs of being able to compromise on these issues.
Over the course of the next few weeks, particularly before the next session of the National Assembly begins, internal Venezuelan relations will be important to watch. The outgoing legislative body’s actions, particularly those in concert with Maduro, will strongly imply what type of relationship the new legislators will have with the President. Will there be legislative paralysis? Will they be disenfranchised through an enabling law? Will Maduro rely on Supreme Tribunal to blunt the National Assembly or will the two bodies find a way to work together? Only time will tell.