The thesis of a national project of social inclusion has once again overcome the bourgeois opposition.
The recent electoral victory in 20 of Venezuela’s 23 states gives the Bolivarian process and its followers a great opportunity for revolutionary progress.
ALL shades of analysis are emerging from the recent elections for state governors and legislatures in Venezuela. The overwhelming majority of opinions seem to have only point in common: by winning 20 out of 23 states, the revolutionary forces have secured a resounding victory, thus confirming Chávez’ Bolivarian socialism as a historical movement and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) as the nation’s principal political force. In summary, the country’s political map is redder now than four years ago.
This reality cannot be assessed in isolation from circumstances and time. The win is more heartening and convincing when taking into account that the elections were held without the presence in Venezuela of the leader and principal reference point of the revolution, Comandante Hugo Chávez. To be noted in relation to the Bolivarian process is the undisputed raising of political and class awareness of its followers, something a well-qualified analyst described as “the baptism of chavismo as an autonomous political identity in Venezuelan society.”
However, the result of the last December 16 elections should not just infuse joy and confidence into end of year festivities. Now, as experienced politician José Vicente Rangel warned in his “El Espejo” news column, “An immediate priority is to analyze regional administration and its burden in terms of certain poor results, so that triumphalism does not contribute to the disruption of analysis and self-criticism.” Rangel was no doubt referring to an issue which Chávez has given maximum priority: more efficiency in government administration and follow up, plus effective solutions.
The Bolivarian people, from the base organizations created by People’s Power and utilizing the alternative media, are supporting Chávez in his battle against inefficiency and bureaucracy. If this spirit is promoted by governorships and mayoralties in the hands of the PSUV, the revolution will move forward and have a positive influence on increasing popular participation in the next elections. It is has been demonstrated that people go out to vote for what they believe in.
Most of the media, analysts and politicians have been content to justify the traditional low voter turn-out in regional elections. This time, 46% of the population did not go to the polls. In light of the final results, the most affected by this reality was the opposition, still suffering from its presidential defeat October 7.
Historically, elections for governorships and mayoralties have a low participation rate: 2000, 43.55%; 2004, 54.27%; 2008, 34.5%. Political analyst Nicmer Evans noted that abstention levels in regional elections are typically high, but noted the low participation rate of opposition supporters, “given that their aim was to de-legitimize the electoral authorities. Now, this defeat is forcing them to reconstruct or reinvent themselves.” In the opinion of Jesús Silva, professor of political studies at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), “The thesis of a national project of social inclusion has once again overcome the bourgeois opposition.”
The revolutionary forces obtained a total of 4,849,143 votes (55%), and also won 186 seats (78%) of the 237 contested. This result must be understood as a great, new opportunity in very particular circumstances for the revolutionary forces. However illustrative and convincing the figures are, they require a careful reading and demand new strategies of the revolutionary ranks to end abstentionism among their potential followers, the people.
CAPRILES, THE BIG LOSER
Assessing the electoral result in the state of Miranda, it would seem that Henrique Capriles Radonski (together with two other right-wing governors) is emerging as the triumphant opposition figure. At least this is how the oligarchical media have defined him. But the final figures speak of another, more complex reality for Capriles and his aspirations as the candidate of the U.S. and national economic power groups.
For José Rangel, the reelection of Capriles Radonski in Miranda, by just four points, “More than a personal success, is the equivalent of a poisoned chocolate, given that is not an expression of the consolidation of his leadership, but a product of the anti-Chávez sentiments of social sectors who voted in this state.”
Rangel is advising us of a reality supported by statistics and the mental state of this anti-Chávez conglomerate east of Caracas. What do the figures reveal? First, that Capriles’ electoral “ceiling” in Miranda has stagnated and he failed to reach 600,000 votes. In the 2008 regional elections, Capriles won 583,795 votes (53.11%), against the 506, 753 (46.10%) of Diosdado Cabello. This time, Capriles was elected by 582,305 votes (51.94%); in other words, 1,490 votes less than in 2008. And Elias Jaua, the pro-Chávez candidate, secured 534,937 votes (47.71%), an increase of 28,184 votes in relation to those obtained by Diosdado Cabello in 2008. Thus Capriles won with fewer votes than in 2008. In losing, in a period of just three months and running for the governorship of Miranda for the first time, Elias added close to 30,000 votes to the revolutionary tally.
The second and no less important point is that Capriles now must govern with a Legislative Council dominated by Bolivarian forces, which won eight of 15 deputy seats. And what does this mean? The PSUV victory of a legislative majority allows for greater legal and constitutional control over Capriles’ governorship. It simply spells an end to the corruption and abuse of power on the part of Capriles, his family and his gang in the Primero Justicia Party.
The new Miranda Legislative Council could demand an exhaustive audit of Capriles’ 2008-2012 administration, in order to show the country what he did with state funds during those four years. From now on, he cannot approve phantom projects, or maintain his Party parasites with the people’s money. At this point, Capriles has also come to the same conclusion and knows that, upon losing his ability to maneuver, he remains electorally and politically at a standstill.
There are various conclusions to be drawn in the wake of the December 16 Venezuelan electoral results. The most important is related to a phrase Chávez used in bidding farewell to his people before traveling to Havana for further surgery. “Make no mistake, we have a homeland.” This homeland is the one which has just recovered five key states (once opposition bastions), with social, geopolitical and population implications: Táchira, Zulia, Carabobo, Monagas and Nueva Esparta.
On the other hand, while the pro-Chávez forces did not win two important states (Miranda and Lara), they did win in terms of Legislative Councils, assuring the greatest electoral triumph of the Bolivarian revolution since 1998. For the opposition, this loss is significant and its frustration is evident in various ways: some are claiming fraud, others are attacking the people, while the three winning governors are trying to head up a leaderless opposition.
Nicolás Maduro, Vice President of the Bolivarian government, has called for good sense, “They have shown themselves in a very bad light, with high-handedness and arrogance, almost bordering insanity. I do not think that they have realized that 20 governorships are more than three. The people dissolved the so-called Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), which has gone from defeat to defeat, as was the case in 2002 and 2003, and in the presidential elections on October 7.”
After this historic lesson, a new scenario of confrontation will doubtless open up, in which the opposition will once again try anything to thwart “this rare Venezuelan dictatorship,” which according to Eduardo Galeano lives from election to election and allows the people to be the ones who decide.