Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
8 March 2007

One day they will have full democracy too…

MPs in the British House of Commons yesterday delivered a historic vote in favour of a wholly-elected House of Lords, setting themselves up for a confrontation with peers that could lead to the most radical change to the upper house for 96 years.

It is by far not certain that this plan will actually be implemented, so Britain may still be stuck with an unelected upper house of Parliament for years to come. If Zimbabwe had such a constitutional arrangements, everyone and his aunty would have had a fit. But of course, Britain is seen as “civilised” (why that would be, I cannot tell), so having an unelected house of Parliament is not seen as undemocratic.

A few years ago when the Commons voted to lower the age of consent for same sex sexual activity to bring it in line with heterosexual sex the Lords vetoed the Act, so it is not as if they have no power or never use their power. But then, what does one expect of a country whose leader has been a cheerleader for George W Bush?

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