jueves, 14 de enero de 2016

Venezuelan Supreme Court, government chip away at opposition's legislative powers

The Venezuelan opposition in control of parliament has had to dismiss three of its legislators under government and Supreme Court pressures, losing thus the two-thirds majority that would have given it maximum legislative powers, media reported on 13 January. The Supreme Court suspended the three legislators in early January for alleged voting irregularities in the 6 December parliamentary elections, though the opposition accuses it of simply doing the socialist government's political bidding. Initially ignoring the Court's instructions and swearing them into office, parliament reconsidered its position when threatened with the prospect of the Supreme Court nullifying all its acts and effectively stripping it of all power. Some pro-government MPs suggested the Court should become a provisional legislature if parliament insisted on maintaining the three disputed seats. The majority coalition was now left with 109 of 167 legislative seats and retained ample legislative powers. Speaker of parliament Henry Ramos Allup described parliament's decision as a "tactical" retreat, but accused the government and its allies of "disobeying the popular will" with the ploy, responding to the charges that parliament was disobeying the laws by keeping the three members. They cannot "come up with votes" Ramos wrote on the website Twitter, so they "come up with rulings." The fate of the three seats was unclear but the liberal majority could not for now pass fundamental state laws, change the constitution or sack senior officials like Supreme Court magistrates.