What should be the ideal presidential term for Venezuela?

  • 7 years

  • 6 years

  • 5 years

  • 4 years


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The Smoking Fish - Cover and Prologue
The Smoking Fish: A Wikibox TL
An alternate history of Venezuela, the United States and the world in the 21st century


Portada.jpg


Prologue

"When an English voter wants a change in the politics of the conservative government in office, all they have to do is vote for the Labor candidate. The differences between a Labor and a Conservative government are not only of personalities but of content, objectives, programs and political philosophy. The case is similar in the United States, in France, in Spain or in any other democratic society.
In Venezuela, in these years, the opposition has never offered such a possibility of a true alternative..."
- Arturo Uslar Pietri in Coup and State in Venezuela

"I can see why people find him [Hugo Chávez] charming. He's very ebullient, as they say. I've heard him make a speech, though, and he has a vice that's always very well worth noticing because it's always a bad sign: he doesn't know when to sit down. He's worse than Castro was. He won't shut up. Then he told me that he didn't think the United States landed on the moon and didn't believe in the existence of Osama bin Laden. He thought all of this was all a put-up job. He's a wacko.”
- Christopher Hitchens

"It was less explained how, after having had that kind of monarch, Venezuelans still did not have an institutionalized mechanism to designate presidents. She did not conceive that Venezuelan society would go into crisis and put itself on the brink of civil war every time the head of state had to be chosen."
- Francisco Zuniaga in Truman's Passenger

"Venezuela has become a melancholic punching bag. They all say venerate her, while they beat her without pause."
- Leonardo Padrón

"Being born in Cuba, a country where freedom of speech is non-existent, it's startling to observe how Venezuela, where I was happily raised, is fast becoming Cuba's mirror image: Dismantling of fundamental democratic rights deserved by its people and citizens of the world."
- María Conchita Alonso

As a Venezuelan person who had to leave his country for economic and personal reasons, I’ve always seen the United States as a modern Promised Land: a country where civil and economic liberties are protected, individuality is valued and celebrated and its government institutions are truly committed to protect their citizens. That explains why millions of Hispanics left everything behind to live in there, creating a large and heterogeneous community that has become a very important part of the American society. However, while reading some of the great discussions and TLs about American politics in this forum, I noticed the lack of focus on Hispanic and Latino Americans, their issues and political involvement, something that has caught my attention.

Another thing that I noticed is that even if there are plenty of TLs that deal with the post-Cold War world, there are few that actually focus on Latin American issues, and not even a single one focused on Venezuela. I highlight this because even if Venezuela isn’t the most populated or even the richest country of Latin America (it was), until a few years ago it arguably was the most politically powerful country of the region because of its oil industry. Without the use that Chávez gave to it as his foreign policy weapon, several political and economic developments in Latin America and other parts of the world would have been very differently. For instance, think about how positive would have been to the world economy having three or four million more barrels of Venezuelan oil, as well as a less belligerent OPEC during the 2000s and 2010s energy crisis.

With those considerations in mind, I decided that my first contribution to this forum will be a Wikibox TL that integrates the issues that I mentioned previously and analyze their impact in the 2000 U.S. presidential election and beyond. I choose it not only because it was an inflexion point, but because it can be safely said that it was decided by the vote of one of the biggest Hispanic and Latin American communities: the Cuban Americans. They, along with the Venezuelan Americans, remain as a Republican-leaning voting bloc only because the Democratic Party missed a huge opportunity to win their support and secure the state of Florida as a solid blue state from 2000 onwards. In parallel, I want to tell a different story of the election and the first years of the Chávez administration, since during those years he was able to take control of the Venezuelan political, judicial and economic institutions.

The first two chapters will focus on Venezuela, as they will describe events that will occur between 1998 and 1999 before catching up with the United States in the end of 1999. In the following chapters, the storytelling will be equally split between both countries as the events in one of them will affect the other.

Finally, I would like to thank you for taking a moment of your time to read my work. I would also like to thank @Yes and @hcallega, since their amazing TLs McGoverning and Decision Points inspired me to write this one. With nothing more to add, I welcome you to The Smoking Fish.
 
The Smoking Fish - Chapter I: La Muerte del Rucio Moro, Part I
Chapter I: La Muerte del Rucio Moro
Part I

Venezuela.png

Venezuela is a country that can be defined with many words, but the most accurate of them would be different. Different because in a time when almost all of Latin America was governed by dictatorships or authoritarian regimes, it had a functional democracy that attracted refugees from almost every corner of the world, and because in one of the most rural and poorest regions on Earth, it stands out as one of the most urbanized and richest countries of the planet. However, as any other country, Venezuela had its rough times.

In 1993, the then-77-years-old former president Rafael Caldera was elected for a new term as an independent candidate in an atypical four-way race. He then took over the presidency with a divided Congress and in the middle of a massive bank crisis, forcing him to cooperate with all political factions to get emergency legislation passed, ironically without the support of his former party, the center-right COPEI, and the leftist Radical Cause. By 1997, however, after almost one decade of civil unrest, military uprisings and political and economic crisis, the country seemed to be in peace and in a more stable shape. As president Clinton said during his visit to Caracas on October 13, 1997: "En Venezuela está todo chévere" ("Everything is fine in Venezuela"). Unfortunately, not everything was chévere.


Bill Clinton and Rafael Caldera, 1997.png
The 1998 presidential election was the center of the Venezuelan political conversation since the 1995 regional elections, when the center-left party Democratic Action pulled an outstanding victory and took eleven governorships and the key mayoralty of Caracas, the capital city. Those results, however, were no longer considered as bellwethers of the 1998 results after the entry in the race of former Miss Universe and mayor of the richest municipality in the country, Chacao mayor Irene Sáez, as an independent candidate. Saez held a massive lead in polls until she decided to accept Copei support, after which her numbers sank.

After Sáez’s support sank, the majority of her presumptive voters changed their preference to one of the two other major independent candidates: former governor of the state of Carabobo Henrique Salas Römer and Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez, commander of the February 4, 1992 coup d’état. As for Democratic Action, former mayor of Caracas and 1993 presidential candidate Claudio Fermín informed the press on November 20, 1997 of his decision not to run for president [1]. Many political analysts considered that he took that decision in order to avoid a confrontation with the powerful secretary-general of the party, Monagas senator Luis Alfaro Ucero, who eventually secured his party’s nomination for himself. Seven months later, Fermín got the AD nomination for senator in the Federal District [2].


Luis Alfaro Ucero.png

Down the ballot, the battle for the country’s state governorships was on. In the state of Zulia, the most populated of country and home to the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, the incumbent governor was one of the leaders of the February 4, 1992 coup d’état, Francisco Arias Cárdenas. Arias Cárdenas thought that his re-election was secure, until COPEI announced on March 15th its decision to endorse the bid from former governor Oswaldo Álvarez Paz to recapture the office that he held for six years [3]. Arias Cárdenas knew that the popular Maracaibo mayor, Manuel Rosales, would be the Democratic Action’s candidate but he was sure that with the combined support of Hugo Chávez, COPEI and his own base of support he would be able to beat Rosales. With Álvarez Paz in the race, however, he understood that winning would be harder.

This was the previous landscape to the 1998 Venezuelan elections.


Notes

[1] First POD. IOTL Fermín quitted AD to run as an independent candidate for president. However, his support fell from 35% to 5% after Chávez and Salas Römer started to get traction, and eventually he dropped out to support Salas Römer. ITTL he decides to wait for a better chance and runs for Senator from the Federal District, and because of the proportional representation system he’s certainly going to get the seat.

[2] This prevents Timoteo Zambrano, one of the most awful Venezuelan politicians ever, from getting elected to the Senate and, eventually, as provisional secretary-general of Democratic Action.

[3] Second POD. IOTL COPEI decided to endorse Arias Cárdenas after Álvarez Paz decided against running in the last minute. ITTL Álvarez Paz decides that he has a shot at getting his office back. However, the lack of enthusiasm that made him drop out of the race would have affected him during the campaign.


Sidenote

There is a second part of this chapter that I am about to publish. Thank you all for your interest :)
 
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The Smoking Fish - Chapter I: La Muerte del Rucio Moro, Part II
Chapter I: La Muerte del Rucio Moro
Part II
On November 8, 1998, the parliamentary and regional elections of Venezuela took place. Widely seen as the first round of the presidential election, many influential politicians and businessman intended to look very closely at the results in order to determine the viability of the several presidential candidacies in order to decide which candidate they should support in the crucial month before the election.

In the state of Zulia, the Democratic Action’s electoral machine ran a very effective get-out-to-vote operation that delivered the governor’s office to Maracaibo mayor Manuel Rosales, who defeated the incumbent governor Francisco Arias Cárdenas by a seven-point margin and former governor Álvarez Paz by a twenty-eight point margin [1]. Rosales’ victory energized the adeco base, and immediately put the newly-elected governor Manuel Rosales at the top of the forecasts for the 2003 AD presidential nomination, surpassing the popular Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma.


1998 Zulia gubernatorial election.png
The overall results of the regional and parliamentary elections were seen as positive for Democratic Action, as they got nine governorships and improved their relative majorities in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, remaining as the single biggest political fraction in Congress [2]. However, Chávez’s Patriotic Pole coalition votes combined were higher than AD’s, increasing concerns among the political and economic leaders about the very likely prospect of a Chávez victory in the presidential election. Chief among them was the owner of Cisneros Group Gustavo Cisneros, a wealthy businessman and traditional AD financer. Cisneros supported Alfaro Ucero’s bid for the presidency, but in private encouraged him to withdraw and support another candidate. "Un bateador emergente" ("Pinch hitter") as would propose journalist Óscar Yánez at his TV show La Silla Caliente (The Hot Chair), precisely on the screens of Cisneros-owned Venevisión. However, Alfaro didn’t want to endorse the wealthy and uncharismatic Salas Römer, and neither did Cisneros, who despised some of the economic advisers who surrounded Salas Römer. A similar situation was going on inside COPEI, in which the re-elected Governors and other party leaders started to publicly question the viability of Sáez’s candidacy after the party’s disappointing results in the last elections.

Congress of Venezuela (1998).png

Between November 9 and 19, several contacts and meetings took place between the national and regional leaders of Democratic Action, COPEI, Project Venezuela and Convergence in order to study the possibility of choosing a consensus candidate that could possibly beat Chávez in the presidential election. They analyzed several possibilities; including supporting the front-runner Salas Römer or launching a surprise candidate along the lines of the Yánez’s proposed “pinch hitter”. Among the options considered for this surprise candidate was the current president of the Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, businessman Luis Giusti; the popular mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma; and the former mayor of Caracas and newly-elected senator Claudio Fermín. On November 19, they settled on Fermín as the most viable presidential candidate since he has independent credentials and is widely respected by the general population. On the following days, Alfaro Ucero, Sáez and Salas Römer dropped out of the race as their parties announced their support for Fermín’s last-minute candidacy [3].

When Fermín’s consensus candidacy was announced, it generated significant enthusiasm among the AD and COPEI voters, party leaders and financiers, but not among the Project Venezuela ones, who were more right-leaning and independent [4]. Regardless, Salas Römer vocal support for Fermín’s candidacy dissipated fears of a massive Salas Römer-to-Chávez transfer of votes. Another victory came on November 22, when former president and newly-elected senator from Táchira Carlos Andrés Pérez endorsed Fermín during an interview with Marcel Granier on RCTV [5]. And on November 29, Fermín held his first and last massive campaign rally in Caracas with the presence of hundreds of thousands of sympathizers, energizing voters who were anxious to prevent a Chávez victory. However, polls made by Consultores 21 (which had Chávez leading by twenty-two points) and Datanálisis (which had Fermín leading by nineteen points) showed the election was in unknown territory the week before the election, with at least 20% of undecided voters [6]. Both polls agreed that Chávez was getting strong support from the poor, blue-collar workers and independents, while Fermín was doing well with party sympathizers, high and middle-class and rural voters.

Finally, the election took place on December 6. And although polls predicted a close race between Chávez and Fermín, it wasn’t. Polls were unable to predict the massive turnout of poor citizens from the major cities, who tipped the scales decisively in favor of Chávez. That night, while Venevisión called the election for Chávez, the radio played the classic song “La Muerte del Rucio Moro” (“The Death of the Rucio Moro”). And just like Reinaldo Armas’ horse, the Venezuelan democracy died when nobody was paying attention [7][8].


1998 Venezuelan presidential election.png


Notes

[1] To came up with this results, I took COPEI’s and other minor parties’ votes away from Arias Cárdenas and then I gave them to Álvarez Paz.

[2] The rest of the results of the election are essentially the same as IOTL. AD gets two deputies more (one in the Federal District and another one in Miranda) as a result of not losing Fermin’s voters.

[3] IOTL, there was no “pinch hitter”. All possible options were vetted and the major parties decided to back Salas Römer while their former candidates remained in the race as spoilers. In the case of Alfaro Ucero, his refusal to back off created a legal crisis as the judiciary had to decide whether AD’s ballot belonged to the party or to the candidate. The court decided in favor of the party, but Alfaro Ucero remained in the general election ballot as the candidate of other minor parties.

[4] This is the reverse of the situation that occurred IOTL. Salas Römer’s core voters were very conservative and right-wing leaning, and his candidacy failed to excite many center-left voters who ultimately voted for Chávez. ITTL that doesn’t happen since Salas Römer’s voters wouldn’t have supported Chávez in any case.

[5] This is very important. IOTL former president Pérez refused to endorse Salas Römer because of his well-known authoritarian behavior and conservatism. As a result, many sympathizers of the former President ironically ended up voting for the men that ordered his assassination in 1992. ITTL Pérez would have strongly supported Fermín if he was the consensus candidate of the opposition parties.

[6] These numbers are based on OTL poll numbers. Venezuelan polls are extremely unreliable as there are few public opinion agencies in the country and most of them are political consultants. For instance, that explains why many people have strong reasons to believe that Chávez literally inverted the results of the 2004 recall referendum and that Jimmy Carter did nothing about it.

[7] That song is a classic in my country. I decided to reference elements of the Venezuelan culture in the titles and the storyline of the TL. In the case of the title, it’s a reference to a classic Venezuelan film: “El pez que fuma”.

[8] I transformed the OTL’s sixteen-point margin between Chávez and Salas Römer into a healthy seven-point one between Chávez and Fermín. I believe that it’s a realistic margin considering TTL’s circumstances.

Sources (in Spanish)

 
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I assume that you liked the Chapter because of the likes :). In the next chapter (which I intend to post during the next week), we'll get into U.S. politics as we approach the 2000 presidential election. But before that, did you like the format? Are the wikiboxes of sufficient quality? I'd like to know what you think :).
 
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The Smoking Fish - Chapter II: Por Estas Calles, Part I
Chapter II: Por Estas Calles
Part I

The morning of December 7, 1998, the Venezuelan political establishment found itself in mourning. They tried to remind voters of Chávez’s links to Fidel Castro, the more than two hundred dead in the two 1992 military uprisings and the danger of throwing away forty years of democracy. But as former president Rafael Caldera told the world in his historical speech during a Congressional debate on February 4, 1992, the people can’t be asked to believe in democracy when it’s unable to satisfy its most basic needs. And that’s something many people didn’t understand.

Chávez’s victory in the Venezuelan presidential election raised eyebrows in the United States and several Latin American and European countries, with reaction varying between admiration, curiosity and fear. Among those who reacted with curiosity were the centre-right Spanish prime minister José María Aznar and the U.S. president Bill Clinton. Clinton’s opinion regarding Chávez was well-expressed by the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela John Maisto, who stated that the U.S. was interested in what would be Chávez’s policies and key appointments. He didn’t wait long for an answer. In the days after the election, the newly-elected Venezuelan president announced his decision to appoint the perennial leftist political operators Luis Miquilena as Interior minister and José Vicente Rangel as Foreign minister, as well as congressman Alí Rodríguez Araque as Energy minister.

The appointment of Alí Rodríguez Araque as Energy minister specially concerned the U.S. government and the oil markets, since he was a former communist rebel during the decade of 1960 and a well-known advocate for halting the opening process of the oil industry, which was nationalized in 1976. Their fears would became a reality after a few weeks after the election, when Rodríguez Araque had a private meeting in Madrid, Spain, with the Saudi Energy minister Ali Naimi Mexican Energy secretary Luis Téller Kuenzler. The results of that meeting probably changed the world oil market for the following years.


Alí Rodríguez Araque.png

As Chávez supporters still celebrated his triumph, the traditional political parties mourned. After the December 6 debacle, Luis Alfaro Ucero announced his resignation as the secretary-general of Democratic Action, being provisionally succeeded by the secretary of Organization Lewis Pérez until the National Executive Committee decides the manner in which the new secretary-general would be chosen [1]. There was some talk in the press about the possibility of organizing primary elections to renew all the national, regional and local authorities of the party, which since December 6 became the head of the opposition to Chávez.

On February 2, 1999, Hugo Chávez Frías took the oath of office as president of Venezuela. At the time, his approval ratings were above 60% [2] and he intended to use his political capital to accomplish his main campaign promise: to summon a National Constituent Assembly that would produce a new and modern Constitution. He just had one obstacle: such an Assembly would be unconstitutional since the then-current Constitution was very clear about the mechanisms that could be used to reform it, not to entirely replace it. However, Chávez wasn’t going to let the Constitution to stop him.

During the 1998 campaign trail, many congressional candidates offered to modify the Constitution to allow the possibility of summoning a National Constituent Assembly as Chávez and his supporters wanted. Among those candidates was the former president Carlos Andrés Pérez, who offered to support the efforts of the man who ordered his assassination based on the national mood, which was increasingly favorable to radical changes of the economic and political structure of the country. However, Chávez didn’t want his support. In fact, he didn’t need it. He just needed the Supreme Court to authorize his plan.

Under huge public pressure from Chávez and his supporters, the majority of the Supreme Court justices voted in favor of a series of rulings that authorized Chávez to call for a popular referendum on May 2, 1999, in which voters would decide if they wanted to exercise their constituent power and to summon a National Constituent Assembly “that would transform the legal system of the country” without much clarification. However, the center of the controversy wasn’t only the legal nature of the Constituent Assembly but also the electoral rules for its election, both of which were highlighted by the press. Regardless, the referendum took place as scheduled and the voters gave a clear message to the political parties: they stood behind Chávez [3].


April 1999 Venezuelan constitutional referendum.png

After the May 2 referendum, the opposition parties Democratic Action, COPEI and Project Venezuela revived the alliance that nominated Claudio Fermín for president in the 1998 presidential election, adopting the name of Democratic Pole. The purpose of that alliance was to unify the political factions behind candidates that actually had the ability to beat the weakest Chávez-supported candidates across the country, but especially in states that voted heavily for Fermín such as Apure, Falcón and Táchira. Such a strategy was unusual in Venezuela since the country had been using a proportional representation electoral system since 1947, but it’s very common in countries such as Canada, France and the United Kingdom, in which it’s known as “tactical voting”. However, this approach was weakened by the fact that many popular independent candidates decided to run without a party endorsement, forcing voters to decide whether they wanted to support their parties’ candidates or individuals that they personally liked but were political outsiders. In any case, Chávez’s strategy ended up being superior to theirs.

One of the Chávez’s chief economic advisors was Nelson Merentes, a left-wing mathematician, researcher and professor at the Central University of Venezuela who was close to the Fifth Republic Movement, the president’s party. At the request of Chávez, Merentes devised a strategy to ensure that the President's supporters got virtually all of the seats in the National Constituent Assembly. All he had to do was trick the system.

The electoral rules for the election of the National Constituent Assembly that were devised by Merentes, endorsed by Chávez and inadvertently approved by the voters assigned to each state and the Federal District a minimum of two deputies (48 in total) and distributed other 56 seats based on their population (by dividing the state’s population between the nation’s 1%), as well as 24 nationally-elected and three seats reserved to the indigenous population (which would be indirectly elected). The problem was that each voter could vote for as many candidates as seats were available in each state, essentially allowing Chávez supporters to get almost all of the seats available since it was very likely that they would get the majority of the vote in the statewide elections. In addition, each voter could vote for as many as ten national candidates, theoretically encouraging independent candidates to run and allowing them to get elected. But even that window wasn’t fully open, as Merentes devised a solution to make sure that they got those national seats. Merentes’ plan was to divide the country in two, present twenty national candidates and use the President’s supporters to make sure voters in each side choose a specific group of ten candidates using what would became known as “Las Llaves de Chávez” (“Chávez’s Keys”), a propaganda strategy that included TV and radio ads, but most importantly, pamphlets (better known as kinos, as Venezuelans call the lottery tickets) containing the list of Chávez’s candidates that each voter should vote for considering the place in which they lived. The results of that strategy speak for themselves [4][5].


1999 Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election.png

The night of July 25, 1999, ended up being an amazing one for Chávez and his supporters. Just outside the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, tens of thousands of people gathered spontaneously to wait for the President to receive them. Some sympathizers placed amplifiers outside the Palace and played Alí Primera songs to entertain the crowd, which waited for hours until the President finally came out of his office and took the microphone to speak from one of the balconies of the palaces. He gave a strong and aggressive speech, but why wouldn't he? As he said, he knocked out his opponents.

Notes

[1] IOTL, this was a messy affair since Alfaro Ucero didn’t resign as Secretary-General, but rather he was directly expelled from the party after refusing to drop out of the presidential race. ITTL, he quietly resigns and there’s no collective disarray in the party after the December 6 defeat.

[2] IOTL, his popular support was around 70-80% because of how lopsided his victory was and the feeling of disarray and mistrust in political parties that was caused by the events leading up to the presidential election. ITTL, Chávez seems to be weaker, the opposition’s morale isn’t as low as IOTL and the country appears to be evenly divided between those who support Chávez and those who don’t.

[3] ITTL Chávez’s option still wins the referendum but with a weaker support. Well, only if we consider getting 72% of the votes a weak performance.

[4] Those are too much votes. That happened because what I explained before about the number of votes that were available for each voter. It’s very difficult to calculate how many voters turned out in that election.


[5] All of this may seem irrelevant at this point, but in the next part you’ll see why it was so important that Chávez didn’t get complete control of the National Constituent Assembly.
 
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Hey guys! I'm sorry that I didn't post any new chapter during the last few weeks, but the truth is that it has been difficult for me to concentrate on writing (especially in a language that is not my mother tongue) and especially to investigate about this particular period (about which it is difficult to get information) in my current personal circumstances. Another aspect is that the chapters related to American politics have been difficult to write for obvious reasons, but I think they are already on the right track.

Elian Gonzalez?

Yes sir. I intend to butterfly away the Elián González crisis in one of the most important PODs of this TL.

And for those who're interested in this, thank you :).
 
Praise be the Lord¡, excellent TL so far compatriota, am from Ciudad Bolivar, and most of my childhood pass by during this... complex period, one that personally I betterly regret that it had happen, because the country´s many lacking is thanks to that monster and the red party. So my expectation is to see a better century so far, if such a thing could be possible in our current situation...:neutral:

Otherwise, keep going¡¡¡
 
Praise be the Lord¡, excellent TL so far compatriota, am from Ciudad Bolivar, and most of my childhood pass by during this... complex period, one that personally I betterly regret that it had happen, because the country´s many lacking is thanks to that monster and the red party. So my expectation is to see a better century so far, if such a thing could be possible in our current situation...:neutral:

Otherwise, keep going¡¡¡

This is amazing mi pana. I'm glad that we can both represent Venezuela in this forum man, and thank you for your support :).
 
Hey guys! I've been working on something for this TL: It's my idea of how the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution (the current one) could have been ITTL. I'll upload it in two versions (in Spanish and English) here along with the next big update (which is ready). The screenshot is from the Spanish version.

Constitución.png
 
I left behind the Title related to the Executive Branch a few days ago, but I was talking to a friend and he had an idea.

I just posted a poll asking you what do you to think the presidential term should be. I'm going to include four options, and you'll be able to vote for the option that you like the most. The options are:
  • 7 years: Originally, this was a Chávez's proposal for the presidential term. Some of the most loyal members of his party supported it, but the majority didn't.
  • 6 years: This was the conciliatory proposal. Apparently, it was suggested by Luis Miquilena as a mean to calm down the press and the opposition, who feared that Chávez was trying to perpetuate himself in power (they were correct).
  • 5 years: This was the presidential term that was included in the 1961 Venezuelan Constitution.
  • 4 years: This was the term that the opposition and the moderate Chavists wanted (and still do).
 
Is the congressional terms still going to be 5 years ?

7 years would be like in France. Basically the same practical result than for 6 years, but upscaled, since it does lengthen even more cohabitation period. I guess it didn't matter at first since Chaves got consistent majorities elected over again. I guess then that the most interesting side of this proposal lies in the political consequences within Chaves' own party.

5 years wouldn't change from the OTL system I believe. Depending on the order between presidential and parliamentary elections, that's a recipe for the president and parliament always being on the same side, making it a very strong presidential regime.

But 4 years ... It would be intriguing to see the reversal of relation between term lengths, the parliament outliving a president. It might set the stage for dangerous standoffs as a new president elected before the end of the previous parliament term could claim for himself a fresh legitimacy out of ballot boxes.

All in all, I would put my money on 7 years, if only to seed discontent and discord within Chaves' party. It looks to me that, given the intended direction of this TL, it would be the best narrative option.
 
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