And thus today the Venezuelan parliament voted its own demise, almost completing a full constitutional coup against the legislative power, separation or powers and what not. Like Hitler did in 1933, unable to put up with a parliament that would dare discuss his "legislative" projects, the regime decided to make the oncoming national assembly an almost empty shell. With the enabling law passed today on first discussion (there is a second vote in a couple of days but the result is foregone and in fact the final draft might even be worse than the one voted today) the next parliament will be able to discuss only some minor issues, becoming for all practical purposes an empty box.
The enabling law is a device that allows the executive power to emit decrees that are also laws and can only be overturned by the mechanism that are used to overturn a law. A decree can simply be voted down, a law cannot, the more so if like the tradition is in Venezuela, certain laws must be voted by a 2/3 or 3/5 majorities and can only be overturned by a similar majority. The enabling law under vote this week, with a bemusing speed for its preparation, is designed to give very broad powers to Chavez on economic and security for at least a year, enough to change irreversibly the economic system of Venezuela and make it impossible to finance a political challenge to Chavez in 2012. After Chavez reelection in 2012 the enabling law will become permanent as it became in Germany as WWII became a fact of life.
Nobody of course is fooled about the intentions of Chavez and already El Pais has a complete article on the subject, as a sample. But of course if your heart goes to Chavez you might want to read the propaganda that serves as news in the Bolivarian News Agency, ABA. The reality is that Chavez has absolutely no need for an enabling law to deal with the current humanitarian crisis. That crisis is just an excuse, a wonderful gift from heavens, literally.
I do not want to insult the readers intelligence explaining why this is a coup d'état but since there are some dense chavistas reading this blog and since I have made it a point to make sure the well known fascist tart Eva Golinger has enough material to put me in jail as soon as she can get away with it, I will explain you why.
Legislating at the very end of a legislative term, when you are a lame duck ruling coalition, when your coalition already lost the majority of the popular vote is simply undemocratic. It is not that lame duck parliaments cannot legislate, they certainly can on mundane mattes to ensure that the government of the country keeps running until the new coalition takes charge. But this happens ONLY in presidential regimes during mid term or special elections because there is already a legal and usually legitimate executive power in office. In parliamentary systems there is no such thing as a lame duck parliament, only a caretaker administration that has limited powers to deal only with pressing emergencies, were those to happen, until a new prime minister is sworn in. In any democratic system, an outgoing legislative body cannot pas legislation that will affect the functioning of the oncoming legislature. The Venezuela parliament that was voted out last September, even if it won in seats numbers, could not have gone beyond voting a budget, special credits or stuff like approving ambassadors. What it has done is made sure that the only thing left for the next parliament, at least for a full year, is to vote only on ambassador approval.
As such it is a constitutional coup, a coup against the legislative power following by a very few days the coup against the judicial power.
Thus the biggest part of the coup is done since the already other two "pretense power" are already tightly controlled by the regime at least until 2012. What is left now to complete the coup d'etat is to go after freedom of expression and a few basic human rights. Already some "laws" are being "discussed" and all of the coup should be neatly packed up by Christmas.