National Assembly (Venezuela)

Last updated

National Assembly of Venezuela

Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela
4th National Assembly
Logo Asamblea Nacional.svg
Juan Guaidó, MUD/VP
since 5 January 2019
Minority Leader
Héctor Rodríguez  [ es ], GPP/PSUV
since 5 January 2018
Composicion actual Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela por partido.svg
Political groups
Democratic Unity Roundtable (64)
  •      PJ (30)
  •      UNT (15)
  •      VP (14)
  •      MPV (es) (1)
  •      COPEI (1)
  •      PRVZL (1)
  •      CC (es) (1)
  •      EC (es) (1)

Great Patriotic Pole (50)

Agreement for Change (es) (8)

  •      CMC (es) (8)
  •      AP (3)

I Am Venezuela (es) (4)

Socialist Block (1)

  •      FB (1)

Other Opposition (33)

Vacant (6)

  •      Vacant (6)
Parallel voting
Last election
6 December 2015
Meeting place
PalacioLegislativo2 fixed.jpg
Federal Legislative Palace, Caracas
Coat of arms of Venezuela.svg
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The National Assembly (Spanish : Asamblea Nacional) is the de jure legislature for Venezuela that was first elected in 2000. It is a unicameral body made up of a variable number of members, who were elected by a "universal, direct, personal, and secret" vote partly by direct election in state-based voting districts, and partly on a state-based party-list proportional representation system. The number of seats is constant, each state and the Capital district elected three representatives plus the result of dividing the state population by 1.1% of the total population of the country. [1] Three seats are reserved for representatives of Venezuela's indigenous peoples and elected separately by all citizens, not just those with indigenous backgrounds. For the 2010-2015 period the number of seats was 165. [2] All deputies serve five-year terms. The National Assembly meets in the Federal Legislative Palace in Venezuela's capital, Caracas.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

In law and government, de jure describes practices that are legally recognised, regardless whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, de facto describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally recognised. The terms are often used to contrast different scenarios: for a colloquial example, "I know that, de jure, this is supposed to be a parking lot, but now that the flood has left four feet of water here, it's a de facto swimming pool". To further explain, even if the signs around the flooded parking lot say "Parking Lot" it is "in fact" a swimming pool.

A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of government.


In the midst of the ongoing constitutional crisis, a different body, the Constituent Assembly was elected in 2017, with the intent of re-writing the Venezuelan Constitution. From that point forward, the two legislatures have operated in parallel, with the National Assembly forming the primary opposition to president Nicolás Maduro, and with the Constituent Assembly being his primary supporters.

2017 Venezuelan constitutional crisis

On 29 March 2017, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) of Venezuela took over legislative powers of the National Assembly. The Tribunal, mainly supporters of President Nicolás Maduro, also restricted the immunity granted to the Assembly's members, who mostly belonged to the opposition.

2017 Constituent National Assembly Venezuelan Constituent Assembly

The Constituent National Assembly is a constituent assembly elected in 2017 to draft a new constitution for Venezuela. Its members were elected in a special 2017 election that was condemned by over forty mostly Latin American and Western states. The Democratic Unity Roundtable—the opposition to the incumbent ruling party—also boycotted the election claiming that the Constituent Assembly was "a trick to keep [the incumbent ruling party] in power." Since the opposition did not participate in the election, the incumbent Great Patriotic Pole, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, won almost all seats in the assembly by default.

Nicolás Maduro 46th President of Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro Moros is a Venezuelan politician serving as President of Venezuela since 2013, and disputed president since January 2019. AP News reported that "familiar geopolitical sides" had formed in the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, with allies Russia, China, Iran, Syria, and Cuba supporting Maduro, and the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe supporting Juan Guaidó as interim president.

On 23 January 2019, Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president, citing clauses of the 1999 Venezuelan constitution and his majority in the National Assembly. [3] The National Assembly has since supported Guaidó and has become part of his transitional government.

Juan Guaidó Venezuelan politician and engineer

Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez is a Venezuelan politician who is the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela and is recognized as acting President of Venezuela by 54 governments. He is a member of the centrist social-democratic Popular Will party, and serves as a federal deputy to the National Assembly, representing the state of Vargas.

Legislative History

1961 Constitution

Under its previous 1961 Venezuelan Constitution  [ es ], Venezuela had a bicameral legislature, known as the Congress (Congreso). This Congress was composed of a Senate of Venezuela (Senado) and a Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados).

The Senate of Venezuela was the upper house of Venezuela's legislature under its 1961 constitution. Under the 1999 constitution, the bicameral system was replaced by the unicameral National Assembly of Venezuela. However, since 1999 the former chamber of senators has been used by the National Assembly for solemn meetings and other special functions.

The Chamber of Deputies was the lower house of Venezuela's legislative under its 1961 constitution; the Venezuelan Senate was the upper house. Under the 1999 constitution, the bicameral system was replaced by the unicameral National Assembly of Venezuela.

The Senate was made up of two senators per state, two for the Federal District, and a number of ex officio senators intended to represent the nation's minorities. In addition, former presidents (those elected democratically or their replacements legally appointed to serve at least half a presidential term) were awarded lifetime senate seats. Senators were required to be Venezuelan-born citizens and over the age of 30.

States of Venezuela

Venezuela is a federation made up of twenty-three states, a Capital District and the Federal Dependencies, which consist of a large number of islands and islets on the Caribbean Sea. Venezuela also claims the Guayana Esequiba territory which comprises six districts in the independent nation of Guyana.

A senator for life is a member of the senate or equivalent upper chamber of a legislature who has life tenure. As of 2018, six Italian Senators out of 320, three out of the 47 Burundian Senators and all members of the British House of Lords have lifetime tenure. Several South American countries once granted lifetime membership to former presidents but have since abolished the practice.

The members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected by direct universal suffrage, with each state returning at least two. Deputies had to be at least 21 years old.

The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies were each led by a President, and both performed their functions with the help of a Directorial Board. The President of Senate of Venezuela hold additional title of the President of Congress, and was constitutional successor of the President of Venezuela in case of a vacancy. [4] This succession took place in 1993, when Octavio Lepage succeeded Carlos Andrés Pérez.

1999 Constitution

President Hugo Chávez was first elected in December 1998 on a platform calling for a National Constituent Assembly to be convened to draft a new constitution for Venezuela. Chávez's argument was that the existing political system, under the earlier 1961 Constitution, had become isolated from the people. This won broad acceptance, particularly among Venezuela's poorest classes, who had seen a significant decline in their living standards over the previous decade and a half. The National Constituent Assembly (ANC), consisting of 131 elected individuals, convened in August 1999 to begin rewriting the constitution. In free elections, voters gave all but six seats to persons associated with the Chávez movement. The Venezuelan people approved the ANC's proposed constitution in a referendum on 15 December 1999. It was promulgated by the ANC and came into effect the following 20 December.

2017 constitutional crisis

On 29 March 2017, the Supreme Court (TSJ) stripped the Assembly of its powers, ruling that all powers would be transferred to the Supreme Court. The previous year the Court found the Assembly in contempt for swearing in legislators whose elections had been deemed invalid by the court. [5] The 2017 court judgement declared that the "situation of contempt" meant that the Assembly could not exercise its powers. [6] The action transferred powers from the Assembly, which had an opposition majority since January 2016, [6] to the Supreme Court, which has a majority of government loyalists. [5] The move was denounced by the opposition with Assembly President Julio Borges describing the action as a coup d'état by President Nicolás Maduro. [5] However, after public protests and condemnation by international bodies, the court's decision was reversed a few days later on 1 April. [7] [8]

On 4 August 2017, Venezuela convened a new Constituent Assembly after a special election which was boycotted by opposition parties [7] . The new Constituent Assembly is intended to rewrite the constitution; it also has wide legal powers allowing it to rule above all other state institutions. The Constituent Assembly meets within the Federal Legislative Palace; the leadership of the National Assembly have said it would continue its work as a legislature and it will still continue to meet in the same building. [9]

On 18 August the Constituent Assembly summoned the members of the National Assembly to attend a ceremony acknowledging its legal superiority; the opposition members of the National Assembly boycotted the event. [10] In response, the Constitutional Assembly stripped the National Assembly of its legislative powers, assuming them for itself. [11] It justified the move by claiming that the National Assembly had failed to prevent what it called "opposition violence" in the form of the 2017 Venezuelan protests. [12] The constitutionality of this move has been questioned, and it has been condemned by several foreign governments and international bodies. [11] [13]

Structure and powers

Under the new Bolivarian 1999 Constitution, the legislative branch of Government in Venezuela is represented by a unicameral National Assembly. The Assembly is made up of 165 deputies (diputados), who are elected by "universal, direct, personal, and secret" vote on a national party-list proportional representation system. In addition, three deputies are returned on a state-by-state basis, and three seats are reserved for representatives of Venezuela's indigenous peoples.

All deputies serve five-year terms and must appoint a replacement (suplente) to stand in for them in during periods of incapacity or absence (Art. 186). Under the 1999 constitution deputies could be reelected on up to two terms (Art. 192); under the Venezuelan constitutional referendum, 2009 these term limits were removed. Deputies must be Venezuelan citizens by birth, or naturalized Venezuelans with a period of residency in excess of 15 years; older than 21 on the day of the election; and have lived in the state for which they seek election during the previous four years (Art. 188).

Beyond passing legislation (and being able to block any of the president's legislative initiatives), the Assembly has a number of specific powers outlined in Article 187, including approving the budget, initiating impeachment proceedings against most government officials (including ministers and the Vice President, but not the President, who can only be removed through a recall referendum) and appointing the members of the electoral, judicial, and prosecutor's branches of government. Among others it also has the power to authorize foreign and domestic military action and to authorize the President to leave the national territory for more than 5 days.

The Assembly is led by a President with 2 Vice Presidents, and together with a secretary and an assistant secretary, they form the Assembly Directorial Board, and when it is on recess twice a year, they lead a Standing Commission of the National Assembly together with 28 other MPs.

Since 2010 the Assembly's 15 Permanent Committees, created by the 2010 Assembly Rules, are manned with a minimum number of 7 and a maximum of 25 MPs tackling legislation of various issues. The Committees' offices are housed in the José María Vargas Building in Caracas, few hundred yards from the Federal Legislative Palace, the former building is also where the offices of the Assembly leadership are located.

Electoral system

In the Venezuelan parliamentary election, 2000, representatives were elected under a mixed member proportional representation, with 60% elected in single seat districts and the remainder by closed party list proportional representation. [14] This was an adaptation of the system previously used for the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies, [15] which had been introduced in 1993, with a 50-50 balance between single seat districts and party lists, [16] and deputies per state proportional to population, but with a minimum of three deputies per state. [17]

For the 2010 election, the Ley Orgánica de Procesos Electorales (LOPE) among other changes reduced the party list proportion to 30%. [18] In addition, the law completely separated the district vote and the party list votes, creating a system of parallel voting. Previously, parties winning nominal district seats had had these subtracted from the total won under the proportional party list, which had encouraged parties to game the system by creating separate parties for the party list. [19]

Political composition

The first election of deputies to the new National Assembly took place on 30 July 2000. President Hugo Chávez' Fifth Republic Movement won 92 seats (56%). The opposition did not participate in the 2005 elections, and as a result gained no seats, while the Fifth Republic Movement gained 114 (69%). In 2007 a number of parties, including the Fifth Republic Movement, merged to create the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which in January 2009 held 139 of the 169 seats (82%). In the 2010 election, for which the number of deputies was reduced to 165, the PSUV won 96 seats (58%), the opposition electoral coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) 65, and Patria Para Todos won 2.

At the 2015 parliamentary election, the MUD won 109 of the 164 general seats and all three indigenous seats, which gave them a supermajority in the National Assembly; while the government's own coalition, the Great Patriotic Pole, won the remaining 55 seats. Voter turnout exceeded 70 percent. [20]

The result, however, was marred by the January 2016 suspension from the NA by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of 4 elected MPs from Amazonas state due to alleged voter fraud and election irregularities. 3 of the 4 were opposition deputies and one was from the GPP.

Following the 2017 Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly Election the new Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly was inaugurated which has the power to rule over all other state institutions and rewrite the constitution.

Latest election


See also

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  1. "Ley Orgánica de Procesos Electorales" (in Spanish). Consejo Nacional Electoral. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  2. "Dos mil 719 candidatos se disputarán los curules de la Asamblea Nacional" (in Spanish). Venezolana de Televisión. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  3. "Juan Guaidó: Me apego a los artículos 333, 350 y 233 para lograr el cese de la usurpación y convocar elecciones libres con la unión del pueblo, FAN y comunidad internacional" . Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  5. 1 2 3 Editor, Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs. "Venezuela's high court dissolves National Assembly". Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
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  17. Crisp and Rey(2003:175)
  18. , 2 August 2009, Venezuela Passes New Electoral Law Archived 24 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  19. , 1 October 2010, A New Opportunity for Venezuela’s Socialists Archived 24 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine
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Coordinates: 10°30′20″N66°54′57″W / 10.50556°N 66.91583°W / 10.50556; -66.91583