Venezuela's PSUV Distances Itself From Calls to Dissolve National Assembly

The vice president of Venezuela's ruling socialist party distanced himself Thursday from a campaign led by one of his minor allies for the country's National Assembly (AN) to be dissolved.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Podemos party leader Didalco Bolivar has called for the GPP to discuss whether to launch a case in the Supreme Court to dissolve the National Assembly. (VTV)
Podemos party leader Didalco Bolivar has called for the GPP to discuss whether to launch a case in the Supreme Court to dissolve the National Assembly. (VTV)

Puebla, Mexico, July 1, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The vice president of Venezuela's ruling socialist party distanced himself Thursday from a campaign led by one of his minor allies for the country's National Assembly (AN) to be dissolved.

The controversial proposal has been floated by Didalco Bolivar, the head of the small political party Podemos. Podemos is aligned with the ruling socialist party, the PSUV, and is also a member of the pro government electoral coalition, the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP). On Tuesday, Bolivar claimed the GPP was set to hold internal discussions over whether to present a case in favour of an AN dissolution to the country's Supreme Court (TSJ).

“The GPP has initiated a discussion to present a request to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, and request the abolition of the National Assembly,” Bolivar told a news conference in Caracas.

Speaking to RT Thursday, PSUV Vice President Diosdado Cabello indicated the controversial move doesn't have the support of his party.

“This is an individual initiative that wasn't discussed with anyone,” he said.

According to newspaper Ultimas Noticias, the GPP will likely decide on whether to endorse Bolivar's proposal sometime next week. Bolivar has argued the measure is necessary, accusing the AN of straying beyond its constitutional mandate.

The AN is controlled by the right-wing political opposition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). Since taking control of the assembly earlier this year, the MUD has vowed to seek to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power. However, the MUD controlled AN has repeatedly butted heads with the TSJ, with the court declaring most of its major pieces of legislation unconstitutional. Among these was a broad amnesty law the MUD said would allow the release of what they say are hundreds of political prisoners. The TSJ struck down the legislation after ruling it included amnesty for perpetrators of organised crime.

Despite the long running stand off between the TSJ and AN, it's unclear whether the court has the power to completely dissolve the legislature.

According to public ombudsperson and PSUV member Tarek Saab, there's no constitutional mechanism allowing the TSJ to end the AN's mandate.

“The grounds for the dissolution of the [AN] – which do exist – are reserved for the president,” he told Ultimas Noticias.

Saab continued by arguing Bolivar is “isolated” among the GPP.

“[Bolivar's proposal] only contributes to a radicalism that won't help promote a climate of understanding,” he said.

The ombudsperson added, “I think this is a time of high politics and dialogue on both sides.”

Bolivar's proposal has also been condemned by MUD leaders.

Speaking to Globovision, AN Vice President Simon Calzadilla said Bolivar's comments had undermined calls for dialogue from other GPP leaders.

“How can we have dialogue with anyone when you pull out a gun and say you want to abolish (the AN)?” he said.

Podemos is a minor party in the GPP, with a history of changing political allegiances. After years of supporting Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, the party fell out with the PSUV in 2007, and eventually aligned itself with the MUD. In 2012, the party left the MUD and joined the GPP, after a major internal split. At the time, many of the party's members left to form a new MUD aligned party.