The installation of Venezuela’s new National Constituent Assembly (ANC) marks the opening of another arena of struggle between President Nicolás Maduro and his long-time rival, Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello Rondón. Though publically supportive of each other, the two men have been locked in a power struggle since the death of their mutual patron Hugo Chávez in 2013. Now, as a member of the ANC, Cabello is well-positioned to shape a political future in which his power is entrenched, possibly at Maduro’s expense.

Impact

  • The creation of the ANC represents a last-ditch effort by Maduro to both salvage his political career and preserve the chavista regime. However, Maduro may fall victim to his own gambit if his allies within the ANC fail to protect him from those who have deemed him to be dispensable.
  • In an early display of its strength, the ANC declared that regional elections would be moved up to October from their original date in December. Claiming that the decision was motivated by the PSUV’s fear of losing the elections, the opposition denounced the move, which exemplifies a favourite technique of the Maduro regime: exploiting democratic institutions.
  • Venezuela’s opposition could actually benefit from the ANC, whose superpower status could be the impetus that the splintered opposition needs to unite. Because the opposition boycotted the elections for the ANC, all 545 of its members belong to Maduro’s party. As a result, the PSUV will be solely responsible for all of the ANC’s actions, and their consequences.