Updated 04:24 AM EST, Sun, Nov 17, 2019

Opposition Wins Supermajority in National Assembly

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On Tuesday, Venezuelan electoral authorities said that the opposition had won a "supermajority" in legislative elections that were held on December 6.

The Movement for Democratic Unity (MUD its acronym in Spanish) won 112 seats while the governing party has 55, according to electoral results issues on Monday and Tuesday. The major victory over the Chavista government is notable because of apparent election day hindrances that were reported. According to Harold Trinkunas, Senior Fellow and Director, Foreign Policy, Latin American initiative, at the Brookings Institute, he notes that there were a number of reported problems on election day, the most serious of which was to keep polling stations open for up to two additional hours so government supporters could scour voter rolls to find eligible voters who had not yet cast their ballots and take them to the polling station, Trinkunas writes on the Brookings website.

According to many Latin American watchers the "supermajority" may signify that politics in Venezuela will change. But what does this mean?

Venezuela's election rules are designed to over-represent the majority party and rural areas. This traditionally favored Chavista parties, but in this election, they have given the opposition a boost in the number of seats they won relative to the popular vote, says Trinkunas, a Latin American watcher. The opposition will now control several levers of power in the National Assembly and will have the power to among other things call a constitutional assembly to rewrite the county's Constitution. It will also allow them to censure the vice president as well as members of the Maduro cabinet.

Will Maduro let the opposition win exercise so much of its potential powers in practice?

According to Trinkunas, there is a dangerous gap between the euphoric expectations created by the elections and the actual power of the National Assembly. He continues to say that not only legislatures in Latin America are typically weak, but the legislative branch has not operated independently so far during the Chavista period, he adds.  

What will MUD do with this victory after 16 years of a Chavista government?

Some in the party want an immediate change in the regime. While others prefer to see the economic situation improve and thenmove forward with change. Jesus Torrealba, MUD's head has been quoted as saying that "Our priority is national reconciliation and second to be a leader in the economic situation and the social emergency of the country."

Maduro has so far blamed low fuel prices and an "economic war" by the opposition as the reasons for the huge defeat.

What will he do next?

It varies by Latin American watchers like Trinkunas. He says that one scenario, may be that the departing National Assembly will pass a "special powers law" allowing Maduro to rule by decree until his terms ends in 2017.

The National Assembly goes on recess on December 15 and reconvenes on January 5, we may know then the true outcome of this election.

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