Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Foreign Updates: Venezuela, Iraq, Italy


Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez strengthened his increasingly authoritarian rule by getting the national legislature to allow him to rule by decree. The move by the lame-duck legislature bypasses the incoming legislature, in which the minority opposition won enough seats in the recent election to block the government’s initiatives.

When United States President George W. Bush did not oppose an attempted coup against Chavez, liberal Democrats criticized him for supposedly not supporting democracy because Chavez had been elected. If it were not clear enough for liberals to see then that Venezuela was no longer a democracy, it has become increasingly clear ever since.


The Iraqis finalized their government by naming the various ministers and other officers. Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties were able to form a coalition several months after elections in which no party had won a majority. Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi’ite, will serve again as Prime Minister in the new government.

I daresay Iraq is more democratic than Venezuela. Liberals who had predicted that Iraq would never become democratic, especially during the several months of negotiations to form the coalition government, have been proven wrong repeatedly by the Iraqi people. The liberals are still complaining that it took the Iraqis so long and are characterizing the coalition as shaky because of Iraq's ethnic tensions, as if they are hoping for Iraq to fail in order not to be proven wrong.


After being rebuffed by the Union of Christian and Center Democrats, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had tried to add them to his governing coalition, has regained the support of several Members of Parliament who had joined the Speaker in a vote of no-confidence earlier this month, according to ANSA, the Italian news agency. Berlusconi had obtained the confidence of Parliament by three votes, avoiding his resignation. His success in adding to his parliamentary majority decreases the likelihood of snap elections, at least until after the federalism reforms are passed in a few months.

The recent passage of Italy's budget and its political stability have helped it avoid a wave of downgrades in European bond ratings.

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