It turns out that 100% inflation, widespread repression and corruption and endemic shortages of basic consumer goods are not a recipe for electoral success:
Electoral authorities in Venezuela say the opposition coalition won a key two-thirds majority in the National Assembly in legislative voting.
The National Electoral Council has published on its website the final tally of results from Sunday’s elections showing that two previously undecided races had broken in favor of the opposition, giving them 112 out of 167 seats in the incoming National Assembly. The ruling socialist party and its allies got 55 seats.
The supermajority gives the opposition a strong hand in trying to wrest power from President Nicolas Maduro after 17 years of socialist rule. It now has the potential votes to sack Supreme Court justices, initiate a referendum to revoke Maduro’s mandate and even convoke an assembly to rewrite Hugo Chavez’s 1999 constitution.
Sooner or later, socialists always run out of other people’s money.
Though Maduro is still President, there are a lot of things the new government can do to improve the lives of their citizens:
To end food shortages, the new congress can immediately lift price controls so entrepreneurs have an incentive to produce or import. The only way to strengthen the “strong bolivar,” as the late Hugo Chávez named the currency, is to make it valuable enough for people to hold. That means lifting capital controls and ending the central bank’s multiple exchange-rate system so business can get access to dollars. On current course Venezuela will run out of international reserves and face default in 2017. Restructuring debt now with creditors would make that prospect less painful.
Which brings us to oil. Chávez used the country’s energy wealth to buy permission in Latin America—and Massachusetts; remember Joseph Kennedy’s Citgo PR campaign—for his many human-rights violations. As long as governments in the Caribbean were getting low-priced petroleum from Venezuela, they voted with the military government in Caracas at the Organization of American States.
Chávez and Mr. Maduro have also traded oil for security help from Cuba’s intelligence apparatus. Putting an end to these trades would retain more resources inside Venezuela and send a signal that the days of government repression are numbered. Meanwhile, rejoice that one of this hemisphere’s lost countries has a chance at revival.