Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is stepping over a very clear threshold should “rule by decree” powers be approved and implemented beyond the installation of the new National Assembly on January 5, 2011.
Although the Constitution does not specify time limits for the “rule by decree enabling law,” Chávez utilization of it clearly usurps the legislative powers of the Assembly and therefore is a defacto revocation of the results of a popular election (in this case, the legislative elections held on September 26, 2010*).
The excercise by Chávez of “rule by decree” powers beyond January 4, 2011 is democracy denied. It is a coup d’état by legal means.
International pressure is essential to curb this effort by the Venezuelan president to sidestep democratic norms in the name of his “socialist revolution.” Democrats around the world, from both the left and the right, should stand up and speak out against this measure.
Moderate governments like Brazil, Uruguay and Spain have an obligation to now get “off the fence” and to speak out against this measure. Venezuelan democracy may depend on it.
*On September 26, 2010, Chávez lost the 2/3 majority previously held by his party. Winning 50% of the votes, his party took 64% of the seats in the new National Assembly to be seated on January 5, 2011. 2/3 majority is needed to pass significant legislative packages in Venezuela.