Venezuelan politics in huge turmoil as “elite fracture” possibly looms

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By Lisa Hladik World News Editor Venezuela is being wracked by political chaos as protestor continue to clash with police in an escalating conflict between the public and reigning political powers. Political analysts see one of the most surprising factors in the situation as the continued support o political and military elites of President Nicolas Maduro. These analysts see conditions in Venezuela as prime for an “elite fracture,” which is when other higher-ups in government break away from the nation’s leader to force a change in leadership. Public anger against the Venezuelan political scene exploded this past week when Mr. Maduro suggested the implementation of a new Constitution, which is seen as an attempt by his administration to maintain its hold over the nation’s political power. As a result, protestors have been flooding the streets, resulting in hundreds of arrests as well as dozens of deaths. The protests come on the heels of worsening conditions in Venezuela, including food shortages and economic downturn, leaving the nation’s public extremely dissatisfied with those currently in power. Venezuelan history has usually shown a correlation between such public dissatisfaction and movements to create changes in political power. With the possibility of an “elite fracture” ever-growing, actions taken by political elites and the Venezuelan government show that both sides are being cautious of such a possibility. When an elite fracture occurs, the timing is complicated. On the one hand, remaining loyal to a tanking government for too long will drag the supportive politician down, too. On the other hand, breaking with the government before others do will lead to high costs that come with disloyalty. A distinctive litmus test about whether the fracture would occur happened in late March. At this time, the pro-Maduro Supreme Court moved to seize many of the legislature power, which Ms. Ortega, the attorney general condemned. The government faced the choice of either condemning Ms. Ortega,, or tolerating her dissent. In the opinion of political analysts, Maduro chose the weaker position by failing to respond to Ms. Ortega at all, possibly leaving the door open for more opposition from political elites.

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