Assembly President Says Consultation Will Guide Venezuela’s New Legislature

The President of Venezuela's National Assembly said the newly constituted body will consult permanently with citizens in its legislative work. Also, it will pass new rules to enforce stricter discipline, such as improved attendance of deputies.

Caracas, Venezuela, December 7, 2005—Nicolas Maduro, the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said the law making body would now be in, “permanent consultation with the public and operate at all the levels and states of the country.”

Maduro made his comments at a meeting held yesterday for the newly elected Deputies. All of the representatives in the Venezuelan legislature are from Chavez’s MVR party or one of several allied parties.

The head of the National Assembly said, “We have a multi-party, multi-social National Assembly… it is an expression of this society.” The new Deputies in the Venezuelan Assembly are mostly from MVR and male. The majority of the Deputies are new. 30% of all deputies are female, though, which is the highest percentage in Venezuelan history.

Smaller parties and groups are also represented such as Gabriela Ramirez from Clase Media en Positivo, a group of Chavez supporters from the middle class. There are also three Deputies from Venezuela’s native groups such as Noheli Pocaterra of Conive. According to Venezuela’s constitution, the country’s indigenous groups are guaranteed at least three seats.

Though there are differences inside the government coalition, Maduro said the Deputies are, “a united block, a family, without rivalry.” The Head of National Assembly said the Deputies had to behave with, “discipline to complete the planned legislation.” He proposed changing the National Assembly’s rules, so that Deputies would be required to attend more sessions and to do more committee work.

Maduro said the laws the government is going to put first would show how, “the people have taken this Assembly.” They will begin with the Citizen Participation law, the new Popular Economy law, and the Work, Health and Education laws. The Citizen Participation law is to solidify the constitutional principle of “participatory democracy,” so that citizens become more involved in the day-to-day affairs of government.

The Head of the National assembly said, “the opposition does not have representatives because they decided not to.” MVR Deputy Daniel Hernandez said the National Assembly would still communicate with opposition parties when making policy.

The assembly will, “consult militants from Primero Justicia, Proyecto Venezuela and people who aren’t militants at all,” said Hernandez. The Venezuelan Deputy said the National Assembly wanted to talk with the, “ordinary and common citizens.”

Hernandez believes the New Assembly represents a clean break with the 4th Republic. According to Hernandez, “Before, the congress represented the oligarchy and was, for 130 years, subordinated to the elite. Now it is human in its quality.”