'Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro received authority to pass economic laws without congressional approval, a move the opposition says will increase the harassment of businesses and attacks on political rivals ahead of local elections.
The national assembly approved today the so-called enabling law by a three-fifths majority, allowing Maduro to enact laws, such as limits on profits, without the oversight of congress.
"It's my responsibility to sign this to fight against corruption and speculation," National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said from congress in comments broadcast on state television. "I sign this in Chavez's name."
Maduro acquired for the first time the same power his late predecessor Hugo Chavez relied on for a third of his 14 years in office to nationalize companies, create taxes and increase labor rights. Maduro said he will use decrees to protect the people from the "parasitic bourgeoisie," which he accuses of hoarding goods and overcharging customers. He will pass populist measures to regain support that has been eroded by the fastest inflation in the world ahead of the Dec. 8 vote, David Smilde, a sociology professor at the University of Georgia, said.'