Venezuela: Coup d’Etat or Constitutional Transition?

Venezuela Analysis has the article Venezuela: Coup d’Etat or Constitutional Transition?

Was Maduro legitimately elected?

Constitutional exegesis aside, the crux of the opposition’s argument is that Nicolas Maduro’s May 20, 2018 reelection was mired in “fraud” and hence his swearing-in “illegitimate,” creating a power vacuum.

This contention has been taken up by the mainstream media as an article of faith and repeated ad nauseam.

For corporate journalists, it doesn’t appear to matter that Maduro was re-elected with 6.2 million votes, amounting to around 31 percent of eligible voters, which, as Joe Emersberger notes, is average among US presidents. For instance, Barack Obama received 31 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2012, while Trump was elected with just 26 percent in 2016, failing to win the popular vote.

Nor does the Western pundit class seem to care that Maduro won with exactly the same electoral system with which the opposition scored its landslide parliamentary victory in 2015, from which Juan Guaido purports to derive his legitimacy.

LAWFARE has the article Guaidó, Not Maduro, Is the De Jure President of Venezuela to make the opposite case.

The present Venezuelan crisis began on Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term scheduled to end in 2025. Nobody seems to dispute that his first term ended that day, in accordance with Articles 230 and 231 of the Venezuelan Constitution. The relevant question is whether Maduro was in fact reelected and legally president after Jan. 10.

Any plausible reading of the constitution shows that Maduro was not reelected and, indeed, that there has been no election at all for the term beginning Jan. 10. Article 293 governs the process for calling and organizing new presidential elections, delegating to the National Electoral Council control over the process. Members of that body are nominated through a complicated scheme that gives significant power to the National Assembly, the country’s unicameral legislature, under Article 296. To Maduro’s chagrin, however, the National Assembly has been under opposition control since 2015.

Are there any indisputable Venezuelan Constitutional scholars who can settle this? Is Mike Pompeo qualified?

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