What a surprise!
CARACAS, Dec 17 – Venezuela’s parliament gave President Hugo Chavez decree powers for 18 months on Friday, outraging opposition parties that accused him of turning South America’s biggest oil producer into a dictatorship.
The move consolidated the firebrand socialist leader’s hold on power after nearly 12 years in office, and raised the prospect of a fresh wave of nationalizations as the former paratrooper seeks to entrench his self-styled “revolution.”
Chavez had asked for the fast-track powers for one year, saying he needed them to deal with a national emergency caused by floods that drove nearly 140,000 people from their homes
But the Assembly, which is dominated by loyalists from his Socialist Party, decided to extend them for a year and a half.
That means the president can rule by decree until mid-2012, and can keep opposition parties out of the legislative process until his re-election campaign is well under way for Venezuela’s next presidential vote in December of that year.
The vote was part of a legislative onslaught to push through bills before a new National Assembly is seated on Jan. 5. Earlier on Friday, parliament passed a law making it easier for the government to nationalize banks and trim their profits.
It’s taken Chavez 12 years, but he’s almost there.
How long will it take Obama and the Democrats, if they are not roundly defeated in 2012?