Thursday, January 10, 2013

Venezuelan Supreme Court Statement

Here is a PDF of the Venezuelan Supreme Court's statement about Hugo Chávez and inauguration. I think the following is an important passage:

En este punto, conviene referirse al “Principio de Continuidad Administrativa”, como técnica que impide la paralización en la prestación del servicio público. Según la doctrina y práctica administrativa, conforme a dicho principio, la persona designada para el ejercicio de alguna función pública no debe cesar en el ejercicio de sus atribuciones y competencias, hasta tanto no haya sido designada la correspondiente a sucederle (vid. sentencia n° 1300/2005).

What this means is that there has to be continuity, i.e. the former president has to remain president until the next president is sworn in. Since Chávez is both the former and next president, he just remains in that post. The fact that this screws up the length of the first term is not mentioned. Is Chávez currently still the former president? Who the hell knows. Maybe both, if such a thing is possible:

De esta manera, a pesar de que el 10 de enero se inicia un nuevo periodo constitucional, la falta de juramentación en tal fecha no supone la pérdida de la condición del Presidente Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, ni como Presidente en funciones, ni como candidato reelecto, en virtud de existir continuidad en el ejercicio del cargo.

What a mess. But the conclusion is that Chávez can be sworn in any time he likes in agreement with the Supreme Court. And since he packed the court, he'll decide.


Justin Delacour 2:10 PM  

While you're right that Venezuela's Supreme Court exercises only limited independence from the government, this particular decision is much more sensible from an institutional standpoint than the alternative you entertain. In other words, it's precisely what you suggest that would result in a complete "mess." Calling new elections before the president-elect is determined to be definitively incapacitated would unleash all manner of havoc within Venezuelan society. This, in turn, would cast a pall of illegitimacy over the ensuing political process. Much better to wait for Chavez's diagnosis.

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