This little article in the NY Times today points out something that has been coming. In fact, it already came in 2004. Three of the main opposition parties (and there are only about four or five that have any political presence out of the 20-30 parties that exist in Venezuela) have called for a boycott of the congressional elections on Sunday. This boycott has been led by some of the opposition newspapers and others in the media who, some point out, don't face any electoral consequences.
One of the main criticisms of Chavez in Venezuela is that he is reaching for dictatorial powers. Opposition members -- who are on both the left and the right -- say that Chavez has absolutist tendencies. Representatives, as in the US, are elected at the executive and congressional levels. The rest are appointed by the president. So, the lone area of opposition presence in the government is in congress at this point.
But the reality is a ridiculous Nader-like strategy of making things worse so that an opposition savior can arise in 2007 out of a Chavez-caused rubble (a beautiful woman who Bush met at the White House while snubbing Chavez). The main reason set forth is that they do not wish to legitimate Chavez's government by participating in the elections. The elections last year were also boycotted by the opposition. Pro-Chavez candidates boosted their number of seats in congress as a result. Now, with the new call for a boycott, pro-Chavez candidates are expected to take majority control of the congress. On Sunday we're going to see Chavez take complete control of the Venezuelan government. He's very popular, after all, among the majority poor. But then the opposition will cry "dictator" to casual observers from abroad. We'll have to see how the US media reports this all. But it has to be remembered that, like him or not, Chavez is democratically elected and his congress is democratically elected. The opposition strategy is ridiculous and divisive.