- President Hugo Chávez won in 1998 with 35% of the population vote and with 36.5% of abstention.
- Creation of a Constituent Legislature (ANC) was approved on January 1999, in order to provide a new Constitution to Venezuela.
- Government Party obtained 96% of delegates to the ANC.
- Constituent Legislature assumes the Legislature control.
- Legislature elected on July 2000 is conformed mainly by representatives of the Government Party.
- Legislature passed the second Executive Enabling Statute.
- Passing of the Enabling Statute caused the lockout on December 2001 and the events on April 2002.
- Government looses a qualified majority (two thirds) in the Legislature.
- Modifications to the “Internal and Debates Regulations of the Legislature” were approved with a simple majority.
- Modifications to the Internal and Debates Regulation considered unconstitutional.
- Reform to the Central Bank Law was passed, without distributing copies to the delegates and without the regulatory debates.
- A Government’s Delegate declares: “They won’t be able to stop the reforms we want to make...because we have a majority”.
In December 1998 Hugo Chávez Frías won the presidential elections
with 35% of total votes. 36.55% of the electorate chose to abstain while 56.20% voted for Chavez. In November of that same year the same electorate had elected a new bicameral Congress in which all the political groups of the time were represented.
2. Immediately, President Chávez Frías began a process aimed at transforming the Venezuelan State. On the basis of
a decision issued in January 1999 by the Supreme Court of Justice
Chávez promoted the convening of a consultative referendum a provision for which was included in the Basic Law on Voting and Political Participation but not in the 1961 constitution in force at the time. The Referendum would launch a process aimed at drafting a new Constitution.
3. In 1999, and with only 35% of total electoral votes, the government's party secured 96% of the delegates to the Constitutional Assembly.
4. Before the Constituent Assembly assumed its functions, the elected Legislature was greatly diminished in its functions and in practice it was dissolved with the approval of functioning of the Legislature’s Delegate Commission. Therefore,
the Constituent National Assembly assumes the control of the Legislative Power and begins to perform tasks corresponding to the Legislature, such as: the approval of the National Budget, the approval of absences from the territory for the President of the Republic, nominations on the Judiciary, etc.
5. Following the approval of the new Constitution,
were called in July 2000
for a new National Assembly in which the government's party succeeded in securing a majority. Chávez, in turn, won the new presidential elections with 32% of total votes and an abstention rate as high as 43%.
6. On November 11th, 2000, the Legislature approved
the second Authorizing Law to the Executive, based on articles 203 and 236 of 1999 Constitution, through which the President transitorily assumed legislative tasks and changed several fundamental laws of the Republic. (The extinct Legislature had approved
the first Authorizing Law to the President on April 27th, 1999, pursuant to article 190, ordinal 8 of 1961 Constitution). Close to the end of the ordinary sessions of the first constitutional term (2000-2005), it is said that if a new Legislature with a majority of government representatives is elected on December, 2005, such Legislature would approve new special powers to legislate for the President of the Republic.
7. The above developments sparked,
the December 2001 lock out, the labor strike and the events of April 2002 .
8. As a result of the April 2002 events,
the government lost the support of some of the parties in its coalition
as well as its qualified majority (two thirds) in the National Assembly.
9. One of the tactics used by the parliamentary faction controlled by the Administration has been to restrict or impede Assembly debates and to expedite the approval of Basic Laws through modifications of the
Assembly's Internal Rules of Procedure and Debates
(7 in only two years), approved by simple majority.
The opposition has denounced the multiple modifications to the National Assembly's Rules of Procedure as unconstitutional.
In this regard, it has presented several complaints before the TSJ (Supreme Court of Justice), which is yet to rule on the matter.
11. Following the appointment in January 2005 of the National Assembly's new leadership, controlled by the pro-government factions and presided by Nicolás Maduro,
the situation in the Assembly became very tense
At one point, the National Guard was asked to intervene to oust Congressman Nicolás Sosa (MAS) from the premises in the midst of a dispute regarding the modification of the Central Bank Law. The modification of the Central Bank Law was approved even though copies of it were not distributed on the floor of the Assembly and it was not debated as regulations required. The opposition strongly protested this maneuver.
statements by pro-government members of the Assembly should also be noted.
For example, Congresswoman Iris Valera has clearly indicated: "We will not stop whatever reforms we choose to introduce to the laws of this country; this is why we have the majority". (El Nacional, Wednesday, June 22, 2005 ).
14. In the past parliamentary elections held on December 4th, 2005, the government alliance integrated, among others, by the following political parties: MVR-PPT-PODEMOS-UPV-PCV, gained the 167 posts subject to election, due to the nominees resignation of some minorities parties, arguing that the CNE didn’t satisfy the conditions required by the Constitution for an electoral process. The process took place with an abstention equal to 74.75%, according to preliminary official numbers, and equal to 82.31%, according to Súmate. The abovementioned resulted in a National Assembly with no political pluralism and having an absolute official accent.
13. Reforms to the Debates and Internal Regulations have persisted with the current directive.
The most recent allows the Legislature’s President to declare a parliamentary recess and summon the Delegate Commission “when circumstances so require”. The purpose of this last reform is to facilitate the incorporation of the Legislature’s representatives to its re-election campaigns, as well as the possibility of controlling the Legislature, given the risk of loosing the majority required for the approval of some laws and given that
23 government representatives are not running for re-election.