Venezuelan supreme court rules President Maduro can approve his own budget

Venezuela’s slide toward dictatorship continued this week when the country’s Supreme Court, which was stacked with socialist party loyalists, ruled the nation’s congress no longer had a say in the budget process. From the NY Times:

The judges’ decision allows the court itself to approve Mr. Maduro’s budget, which he is expected to present by decree on Friday. The move caps a yearlong effort by the leftist government to use the courts, which are controlled by Maduro loyalists, to neutralize the Congress…

The Supreme Court justified its budget ruling as a means to guarantee constitutional order.

“For the first time in Venezuelan history, the government is going to approve its own budget,” said José Guerra, an opposition legislator who is the president of the finance commission. “This has always been the Parliament´s job.”

The Venezuelan opposition took control of the National Assembly during elections last December. In response, President Maduro’s loyalists stacked the court with judges loyal to him who have been undoing every reform effort made by the National Assembly ever since. Meanwhile, the country’s economy continues to deteriorate with the nation’s inflation rate the highest in the world this year. From CNBC:

Year-on-year inflation is expected to reach 700 percent this year and UBS forecasts it will reach 1,500 percent next year.

“This situation is vastly deteriorating,” Diego Moya-Ocampos, senior Latin America analyst at IHS Country Risk, told CNBC Thursday. “We expect the economy to contract at least 11.5 percent, inflation to hit 700 percent, already the highest in the world.”

Meanwhile, the only hope for stopping this downward spiral is a recall referendum that President Maduro and his cronies have done everything they can to stop. Later this month the opposition will attempt to collect the signatures of 20% of the electorate to put a recall to a vote. But the results of that effort have to be certified by the existing government and if the reaction to the previous recall efforts is any guide, there will be delays followed by claims of fraud and shady attempts to dismiss the entire process.

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