[News] Venezuelan Elections - A Serious Warning to the Revolution

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 30 10:49:09 EDT 2010

Venezuelan Elections

A Serious Warning to the Revolution

By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/alanwoods>Alan Woods

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Marxist editor Alan Woods writes: The result of 
the elections to Venezuela's National Assembly 
elections on Sunday was greeted by jubilation in 
the bourgeois media internationally. It is too 
early to make a definitive judgment about the 
results, and it has not been confirmed the right 
wing has overtaken the PSUV in votes. However, 
the deafening chorus of triumph in the international media is premature.

The ferocious international campaign saying that 
Chavez has lost is a reflection, not of the real 
state of affairs, but of the desire of the 
bourgeois both in Venezuela and internationally 
to finish off the Venezuelan Revolution once and 
for all. But between desires and their fulfilment 
there is always a wide gap, as everyone knows. 
Whether the opposition's counterrevolutionary 
aspirations are fulfilled or not does not depend 
on the results of an election but on the conduct 
of the Revolution and its leadership.

Elections are only a snapshot of the state of 
public opinion at a given time. These results can 
tell us a lot about the psychological state of 
different classes in Venezuela, and they 
undoubtedly reveal certain tendencies in society. 
They constitute a warning that must be taken very 
seriously by all those who have the interests of 
the Revolution at heart. But in and of themselves they decide nothing.

The right wing jubilant

The right wing immediately started to crow like a 
drunken cockerel. Maria Corina Machado, who was 
elected deputy of Miranda state said: "Here it is 
very clear, Venezuela said no to Cuban-style 
communism, Venezuela said yes to the path of 
democratic construction and now we have the 
legitimacy of the vote of the citizenry, we are 
the representatives of the people."

On Monday, MUD officials claimed victory in the 
elections, based mainly on their claim to have 
won the majority of the total votes cast on 
Sunday. But this was a bluff. The real situation 
is more complicated, although there is no doubt 
that the Revolution now faces new dangers.

According to the official results of Sunday's 
election released by the National Electoral 
Council, Chavez' United Socialist Party of 
Venezuela (PSUV) so far had won 95 seats, while 
the opposition coalition Democratic Unity 
Roundtable (MUD) won 62 seats. The Fatherland for 
All (PPT) party, a former Chavez ally that split 
with the PSUV, won two seats. Three seats went to 
indigenous people's representatives unaligned 
with either the PSUV or the MUD. The CNE has not 
yet announced the results in the contests for three other seats.

Of course, it is possible to read these results 
in different ways. Deputy-elect Roy Chaderton 
pointed out on Monday that the opponents of 
President Hugo Chavez won approximately 20 fewer 
seats than they held during the 2000-2005 
legislative term, while the pro-Chavez camp grew by several seats.

Socialist candidates won in Aragua, Barinas, 
Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, 
Distrito Capital, Falcon, Guarico, Merida, 
Monagas, Lara, Portuguesa, Trujillo, Vargas 
Yaracuy and there was a draw in Miranda and 
Sucre. But the right wing won in important states such as Zulia and Tachira.

Chaderton pointed out that the Opposition has 
lost ground compared to the 2000 elections. He 
said the opposition was setting up a "media 
farce" by comparing Sunday's results only to 
those of the 2005 elections, which the opposition 
boycotted, and thus reporting that the opposition 
drastically increased its presence in the National Assembly Elections.

That is correct, and it is also true that the 
data for the total number of votes is not a 
straightforward issue, as people can vote for a 
candidate in their constituency as well as voting 
for a party list and some MPs are elected through 
the first system, some through the second. 
Nevertheless, it is clear that the vote for the 
opposition is growing, while that of the PSUV is declining even more sharply.

To underestimate the strength of the enemy and 
overestimate one's own strength is a very 
dangerous mistake in politics as in war. The 
Revolution needs not sugary illusions but the 
truth. From the latest results it seems that the 
PSUV got 5,399,300 votes, while the right wing parties won 5,312,283votes.

False optimism

Officially, the PSUV won the majority of the 
seats in 16 of Venezuela's 23 states. This 
included sweeping victories in the rural states 
of Apure, Barinas, Guarico, Cojedes, Lara, 
Portuguesa, Vargas, and Yaracuy; and strong 
victories in the major industrial states of 
Bolivar and Carabobo. The PSUV also won seven 
seats in the Capital District, compared to three for the MUD.

In Miranda state, where the capital city is 
located, the PSUV and the MUD each won three 
seats, with the MUD defeating the PSUV by just 
741 votes out of a total of 968,947. The two were 
also tied with three seats each in Sucre state. 
In the sparsely populated Amazonas state, the 
PSUV won one seat, while the PPT won 2 seats and 
the MUD none. However, the MUD swept the border 
states of Tachira and Zulia, as well as Anzoategui and Nueva Esparta.

The PSUV leaders try to present the result as a 
victory. Vice President Elías Jaua said: "The 
revolution can count on a comfortable majority in 
the National Assembly... Few governments on our 
continent can count on such a comfortable 
majority of just one party. [
] The opposition 
does not have any possibility, with this number 
of deputies, of reversing the legislative 
processes that have been completed or activating 
destabilizing mechanisms such as revoking public 
powers or impeaching the president."

PSUV Campaign Chief Aristobulo Isturiz expressed 
disappointment that the goal of 110 seats was not 
reached. However, he said this should not 
distract from the "truly decisive victory" won by 
the PSUV, which "reaffirms us as the primary 
political force in our country. We achieved our 
objective in the sense of being able to guarantee 
the defence of President Hugo Chavez and the 
policies of the revolutionary government, and 
having won sufficient forces to propel structural 
changes in this era of the construction of socialism."

But the facts do not support this optimistic 
interpretation. If we compare the results with 
the votes in the 2009 regional elections, the 
difference is immediately evident. The PSUV then 
got 6,310,482 votes, compared to 5,190,839 for 
the right-wing parties. The warning light is 
flashing red and it would be the height of irresponsibility to deny it.

During the 2000-2005 legislative term pro-Chavez 
parties held between 83 and 92 seats at any given 
time, while opposition parties held between 73 
and 82 seats, out of a total of 165. But this was 
a period when the masses were aroused. The defeat 
of the counterrevolutionary coup in 2002, and the 
subsequent defeat of the oil sabotage and the 
recall referendum were accomplished by the 
revolutionary people -- that is to say, the workers and peasants.

Since that time, it is clear that the 
revolutionary enthusiasm has ebbed. There is 
discontent and disillusionment among the masses. 
This finds its reflection in widespread 
abstention in the elections. The figures speak 
for themselves. While the right wing vote went up 
by a mere 2.28%, the left vote fell sharply by 
14.44%. This means that the opposition did not 
win these elections; the chavistas lost it.

The importance of leadership

What is the main feature of the present 
situation? The main thing to note is that, at 
least in the electoral terms, the distance 
between the forces of the revolution and the 
counterrevolution has been reduced. There is a 
sharp increase in the polarization between the classes.

The first, and possibly the most important, 
effect is the psychological effect on the two 
contending camps. Napoleon pointed out that in 
war morale is a vital factor. The 
counterrevolutionaries will be encouraged and 
emboldened to go onto the offensive. By contrast, 
many Bolivarian activists will feel discouraged 
and unhappy. This is a not unimportant fact!

An army that has suffered a defeat needs to have 
confidence in its leaders, the soldiers must feel 
that the generals know what they are doing and 
are able to recover from the defeat and go 
forward. In times of retreat in a war the 
importance of good generals is a hundred times 
greater than in an advance. With good generals 
the army can stage an organised withdrawal, 
keeping the army together and in good order, with 
a minimum of losses. But bad generals will turn a defeat into a rout.

The role of the reformist bureaucracy in this 
situation is particularly negative. They will 
draw all the wrong conclusions. They will be 
saying: "Look, this proves that we do not have 
the support of the people. We must make 
concessions to the opposition, strike deals, 
retreat." This is the worst possible advice. For 
every step back the Revolution takes, the opposition will demand ten more.

The reformists will argue that the elections mean 
that we have to adopt a policy of class 
reconciliation. But that is the very policy that 
has undermined the Revolution and alienated is 
proletarian base. This was shown graphically by 
the result in the State of Anzoategui, where the 
big margin of victory achieved by the 
counterrevolution reflected discontent with the 
behaviour of the right-wing chavista bureaucracy.

The only way forward for the PSUV is to rely on 
its real base: the revolutionary workers and 
peasants. They are looking to the PSUV to carry 
out its promises. The PSUV must break decisively 
with the bourgeoisie and its agents, the 
reformist bureaucracy that represent a bourgeois 
Fifth Column within the Revolution.

The threat of counterrevolution

Despite the electoral setback, the Revolution 
still has important reserves of support. Over the 
past year polls have consistently showed that the 
PSUV still has the support of around 35% of the 
population, while support for the opposition 
parties is much weaker. However, a large 
population is undecided, reflecting a growing 
disenchantment with the progress of the 
Revolution. In order to secure its future the 
Revolution must find a way to motivate and 
enthuse these layers. This can only be done through decisive action.

The approval rating for Chavez' presidency 
remains high at around 55% or 60%. This reflects 
the fact that the Revolution still possesses huge 
reserves of support in the population. The 
problem is that Chavez is surrounded on all sides 
with a thick layer of bureaucrats and careerists 
who do not see the Revolution as a means of 
changing society but only as a vehicle for personal advancement and enrichment.

The PSUV still has a majority of the National 
Assembly, and will be able to control the passage 
of ordinary laws and most other functions of the 
legislative body. However, the PSUV failed to win 
a two-thirds majority, which means the opposition 
will have the power to block organic laws, 
enabling laws that give decree power to the 
president, and some appointments. The right wing, 
even though it is a minority in Parliament, has 
increased its ability to interfere with the 
Venezuelan revolutionary process and place 
obstacles to the action of the government of President Chavez.

The Opposition will use its position in the 
Assembly to attempt to paralyze the government 
and sabotage progressive laws. But their real 
goal is to overthrow the Revolution and seize 
power. To do this they will use the National 
Assembly to mobilize the masses of enraged petty 
bourgeois on the streets to create an atmosphere 
of chaos and disorder. It is necessary to meet this threat head-on.

Aporrea was correct when, on 09/27/10, it wrote: 
"The PSUV wins a simple majority in the NA, but 
the bourgeoisie is gaining ground and the threat 
is growing." The article correctly says that what 
the election result shows is that "the bulk of 
the population prefers the anti-capitalist and 
socialist path. But, most strikingly, it revealed 
an element of vulnerability, since the PSUV and 
its allies did not reach the two thirds needed to 
have a qualified majority." And it concludes: 
"More than ever we need a clean-out and more Revolution!"

The election results show an advance of the 
counterrevolutionary forces, but they are still 
very far from achieving their real objective. In 
order to succeed, the opposition will have to 
confront the President and the revolution. The 
main clash will take place when the presidential 
term of office comes to an end in 2012. It is 
possible that a showdown can come even earlier if 
the opposition resorts to a recall referendum. 
The only way to prevent this is to speed up the 
revolutionary process, carrying out the 
expropriation of the land, the banks and the major industries.

"But we do not have a sufficient majority in the 
National Assembly to do this!" This argument of 
the reformists is false from start to finish. 
Everyone knows that the fundamental problems of 
society are not resolved by parliaments, laws and 
constitutions but by the class struggle.

In electoral terms, the petty bourgeois masses 
may seem a formidable force. But when they are 
confronted on the streets by the power of the 
workers, peasants and revolutionary youth, their 
apparent strength will evaporate like a drop of 
water on a hot stove. If the Revolution is worthy 
of its name, it will refuse to dance the 
parliamentary minuet with the counterrevolution 
but instead will mobilise its forces where it 
really matters: not in debating chambers but on 
the streets, in the factories and the army barracks.

In a press conference on Monday night, Chavez 
said the next phase of his government will 
include "the acceleration of programs of the new 
historical, political, social, and technological 
project." That goes in the right direction but it 
must be translated into action. The President 
concluded: "We must continue strengthening the revolution!"

That, and not the cowardly recipes of reformism, is the only way forward.

Before us lie only two possibilities: either the 
greatest of victories or the most terrible of 
defeats. In order to secure victory we must base 
ourselves on the famous slogan of the great 
French revolutionary Danton: "De l'audace! De 
l'audace! Et encore de l'audace!" - "Boldness! 
Boldness and still more boldness!"

Alan Woods

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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