Why did Maduro increase the number of deputies in the National Assembly from 167 to 277?


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Until this year, the National Assembly of Venezuela – currently in the hands of the opposition – will be made up of 167 deputies elected by popular vote through the roll call and roll call vote. The current composition of the Chamber was part of the legacy of the late President Hugo Chávez Frías and that Nicolás Maduro has finished dismantling like everything else in the country. The new parliamentary composition it will go from 167 deputies to 277 for the legislative period (2021-2026), an increase that represents 66% of the current number of deputies and the largest registered in the country’s history.

When Chávez came to power in 1999 it was proposed to extinguish the two Houses, the Congress and the Senate, because 260 legislators seemed excessive and because of an episode that took it quite personal. And it was the refusal of Congress to approve his proposal for the promotion of several military personnel who participated in the aborted coup that he himself led in 1992.

But this new change of the National Assembly proposed by Maduro, responds mainly to the objective of dispersing the opposition vote and snatch the parliamentary majority led by Juan Guaidó for two years. Although the interim government has already said repeatedly that these elections are “fraudulent”, that they do not have any “legitimacy” and that they are held without the minimum “democratic” conditions. The parliamentary group of 100 opposition deputies led by Guaidó will remain in office after January 5, the date on which the new legislative period begins.

The plan of the Chavista regime violates article 186 of the country’s Constitution, which speaks of a population base of 1.1% and resolves 167 deputies for the national territory, which has a population close to 32 million inhabitants. ‘The increase in the number of deputies has no statistical demographic basis. If the calculation is made with the current population, it does not give that number of deputies, “says Luis Salamanca, rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE) between 2006 and 2009, who dismantles the version of the new president of the electoral body, Indira Alfonzo, who bases the changes on achieving greater proportionality in Parliament, with the increase in the representation of minority parties to balance the political forces.

“If there is no demographic foundation, the foundation is political and is based on having more seats to distribute among government partners. This analysis cannot be separated from the party system that Maduro is building where there is a hegemonic party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which is the party of the State and, around, satellite parties without greater political representation like that of the opponents Henry Falcón, Claudio Fermín, Timoteo Zambrano and like that of Javier Bertucci who do not mean anything in Venezuelan politics, ”explains Salamanca while recalling that the opposition parties that could defeat Maduro were eliminated one by one since 2018, stripped of their symbols and names by Maduro’s legal arm to hand them over to other leaders bought by Chavismo

New formula

Indira Alfonzo, principal rector of the CNE, former magistrate of the Supreme Court and sanctioned in 2018 by the Government of Canada, confirmed that 86 political parties will participate in the elections and that the new formula to elect positions will be 52% through proportional representation (list) and 48% by personalized vote (nominal). Before the announcement, the voting system was 70% nominal and 30% list, an “unbalanced” model, because according to the CNE, “a party won more seats than it was entitled to when it managed to win by one vote.”

Faced with this, the interim president and head of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, said that the elections lack transparency and has dismissed the scheduled event and, on the contrary, has said that the last legislative period will be extended until the conditions are guaranteed. “Venezuelans do not recognize a farce, as we did not in May 2018,” said the opposition leader.

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