Venezuela’s opposition on Sunday picked Henry Ramos Allup, an outspoken old-guard politician, to be the new president of the National Assembly — setting the stage for a showdown with the ruling socialist administration, which hasn’t faced a combative congress in more than 15 years.
In a brief acceptance speech, the 72-year-old Ramos called for an end to the nation’s polarization, a peaceful congressional transition, and said the opposition would “celebrate by getting to work...celebrate by keeping our word.” Incoming opposition legislators, who won seats during the Dec. 6 race, chose the new leadership in a secret vote Sunday night. Ramos, who has been a deputy on three different occasions and is the head of the Acción Democrática party, won 62 out of 111 votes. The runner-up was Julio Borges, with Primero Justicia, with 49 votes.
The new National Assembly will be sworn in for the 2016-21 session on Tuesday. Ramos will undoubtedly become a lightning rod for President Nicolás Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which is still reeling after its legislative landslide defeat. The PSUV won 33 percent of the vote, or 55 positions in the 167-seat congress, while the opposition won 112 seats.