The Constitutional Chamber and the Erosion of Democracy in Venezuela
Jesús María Casal Hernández
This article analyses the role played by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice in the dismantling of democracy in Venezuela. The decisions of the Chamber are examined from the standpoint of their impact on the fundamental dimensions of constitutional democracy. For this purpose, the political-institutional context in which the Constitutional Chamber has acted is explained, and the successive packings to which it has been subjected since its installation are highlighted. Its performance is placed in a comparative perspective with respect to other constitutional courts or chambers that have participated in the erosion of democracy and the Rule of Law. All this reveals the key support that the Constitutional Chamber has provided to enhance the governmental power and diminish the political pluralism, at the expense of the counterbalances and institutional controls as well as the fundamental rights. Unlike the views that warn about the authoritarian advance of this Chamber in recent years, after a supposed initial phase of relative independence, this article intends to recognise lines of continuity in the jurisprudence that this Chamber has established since its creation regarding the undermining of constitutional democracy. After confirming the continuity of the authoritarian role of this Chamber, which has shown various facets as the circumstances have demanded, the article also focuses on the conceptual and procedural foundations on which the Constitutional Chamber based itself to fulfil that function. The work concludes reflecting on the task that a new Constitutional Chamber could carry out in a possible scenario of political transition in Venezuela.