Last Friday the Supreme Court ruled that Hugo Chavez did not
need to leave his position in order to campaign for the December election. The
press has interpreted the decision as suggesting that Manuel Rosales will have
to resign, but legal experts suggest that the interpretation is incorrect and
that Rosales simply has to step down temporarily.
The decision by the Court notes that Art. 229 of the
Constitution establishes that you can not be elected to be President while you
are Vice-President, Minister, Governor, or Mayor on the day you register to
run. However, the Court then uses Article 124 of the Suffrage Law which states
that to be candidates for President those holding public positions have to
resign (defined as absolute absence), but then goes on to explicitly say that
those that have to resign are “the Ministers, Heads of Central Offices of the Presidency,
Heads of organizations with functional autonomy, Presidents and Directors of autonomous
institutes and Presidents and Directors of state enterprises.
Thus, Governors are not explicitly included in the article,
which many lawyers believe means that Rosales has to ask for a leave of absence
of no longer than 90 days in order to run for President. (The law does separately
define an absence of more than 90 days as absolute)
The only part that remains unclear to me is how Rosales can
run without losing the Governorship if he would have to register his candidacy
90-plus days before the election. Any lawyers out there?