President Hugo Chavez Frias is in trouble. The stunning results of Sunday's National Assembly Elections shined a light on a country that has subtly shifted under Mr. Chavez's feet. Only eighteen months ago, President Chavez won a referendum on indefinite re-election by a wide, ten point margin upon a platform of radical socialism.
However problems with inflation, electricity and power shortages, and street violence have caused times to change. Consequently, President Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution has come increasingly under scrutiny by the electorate. In response, yesterday's National Assembly Election, with 66% voter turnout, saw the opposition's Table for Democratic Unity (MUD) gain 61 seats (with several more still being counted), a number that would have been significantly higher were it not for the 2009 reform of the electoral law.
These gains put the MUD above the 1/3 necessary to impede a more radicalized agenda through the passing of Organic laws (sweeping reforms), constitutional changes and the calling of constituent assemblies. It also affects Chavez's ability to appoint judges to the Supreme Court of Justice.