Few countries can match Venezuela’s “revolutionary” government when it comes to perceived venality, corruption, abuse of power and sheer incompetence. But perhaps for not much longer. After 15 years in power, the sorry saga of “chavismo” may be entering its last act. On December 6, Venezuelans will vote in elections to determine the make-up of the country’s unicameral National Assembly. Polls consistently show the opposition with more than 60 per cent support, twice the government’s level. Even after allowing for electoral sleights of hand — such as gerrymandering, use of state resources to coerce state workers to the vote, and the arbitrary imprisonment or disqualification of opposition candidates — such numbers are big enough to deliver the opposition a parliamentary majority. It may even win a supermajority. That is enough, in theory, to change the constitution, devolve powers to the assembly and jump-start a transition.
The country certainly needs a fresh start. It is ravaged by almost 200 per cent inflation, a recession that will shrink the economy by 8 per cent this year alone, and the world’s second highest homicide rate. Internationally, it is becoming a pariah. Last week, two nephews of Venezuela’s First Lady were arraigned in a New York court on cocaine-smuggling charges. Although their case has no links to Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president and the charged men’s uncle-in-law, it follows a string of other drug smuggling charges in the US against high-ranking government officials. Venezuela, which sits on the world’s largest oil reserves, is more than just a petro-state, it seems. Increasingly, it is a narcostate as well.
Mr Maduro recognises the election’s threat. He has warned that the “revolution” faces its biggest-ever challenge. He has talked darkly about how the revolution will continue “come what may”. Indeed, even if the opposition wins control of parliament, the Socialist Party will still control all other organs of state. If that is not enough, Mr Maduro has even suggested that he might bypass the assembly completely, “governing with the people in a civil-military union” — although evidence suggests the people are not with him. One survey, by reputable pollster Datanalisis, reveals that an incredible 67 per cent of Venezuelans believe Mr Maduro should not finish his term.
Full Article: Venezuela’s threatened December election – FT.com.