Venezuela: Right-wing opposition names united candidate

With almost 3 million people participating in the process of primary elections, the coalition of right-wing parties in opposition to the Chavez government, elected a united candidate for the Presidential elections in October.

With almost 3 million people participating in the process of primary elections, the coalition of right-wing parties in opposition to the Chavez government, elected a united candidate for the Presidential elections in October.

12 February was a national holiday in Venezuela, when the 198th anniversary of one of the battles of the war of independence was celebrated, and which is designated as national day of the youth in memory of young soldiers and peasants who died in this battle. On this day in 2012, the political coalition of the right, the “Table of Democratic Unity” (MUD), held a primary electoral process, which the capitalist press covered widely nationally and internationally, and was described as “historic” and “unprecentented”.

With 95% of the votes counted, 2,904,710 votes had been registered, according to the National Electoral Council (CNE). This figure surpassed the expectations of ‘Chavistas’ and the opposition, who predicted participation of between 500,000 and 2.5 million. This marked an important step in the run-up to the election on 7 October.

The winner after this process was Henrique Capriles (HCR), who won with over 60% of the votes, as one of among 5 candidates for the MUD candidacy, including 1 woman. With 1,806.668, he won double the vote of his nearest competitor, the Social Democrat, Paul Perez.

Who is HCR?

HCR is a lawyer of 39 years of age, who was elected a deputy in the national congress in 1999. He has been mayor of one of the richest municipalities of Greater Caracas, and was also involved in the assault on the Embassy of Cuba during the coup of 2002. He is currently governor of Miranda State. HCR belongs to one of the most powerful families in this country, "the Capriles-Radonskys" which has a monopoly on print media and cinema.

Chavez and HCR

“A reflection of democracy in Venezuela”?

The primary process was justified by the entire political class as an example of Venezuela’s full democracy, falsifying the arguments of “dictatorship and totalitarianism” always used by the right. However, this is all simply a word-game. This process was no example of “democracy”, much less of revolutionary democracy. What took place was a further step in the recuperation and gathering of forces of a political sector which was defeated in 2002 and 2004 by the workers and poor. Due to the incapacity of the Chavista leadership to deepen the revolution, instead seeking conciliation with a sector of the “national bourgeoisie”, this sector has not only been able to become re-strengthened since 2007, but now even threatens to finally turn the clock back by winning the October elections.

Deepening of polarisation

This situation, with a unified candidate of the right ,will bring about a polarisation in society which is even more pronounced, with the single candidate against Chavez allowing for a more accentuated confrontation between Chavistas a nd the opposition.

On the part of Chavez, we will surely see efforts to radicalize his discourse, in confrontation with the opposition. However, this will not be enough. Plus, there are also some advantages for the opposition in this new polarised stage: 1. its single candidate can give it a feeling of cohesion and unity; 2. Chavez’s disease, which although publicly seeming to have improved, still provokes doubts about a full recovery and ability to manage what is perhaps the toughest election campaign he has faced since 1998; 3. the fragmentation of key sectors of the popular movements, wear and tear, and the deep political crisis of the working class, which remains in the ‘rear guard’ of the political struggle.

We are, without doubt, in a new stage of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’. After 13 years in power by Chavez and a band of bureaucrats and “Boli-bourgeois” elites which have formed around him have led towards the wearing out of Chavez’s proposed project for “Socialism in the 21st century”.

The economic crisis which hit the country between 2009 and 2011, not only revealed the economic reality in the country, but also deepened the class contradictions, revealing a political establishment which bases itself on a discourse of ‘socialism’ and ‘revolution’. This establishment has not only been incapable of dealilng a death blow to capitalism, but has also allowed for the forces of reaction to regroup and gather their forces, united around the objective to “kick out Chavez and his ‘communist’ government!”.

The right-wing primary elections, with such a significant level of participation, are a development which should serve to warn all revolutionaries, and those in the critical base of the Chavez movement who are seeking an alternative to the growth of the corrupt bureaucracy which drags the Bolivarian process further to the right every day. We cannot continue to underestimate our enemy, or to overestimate the popular support that Chavez enjoys. It is increasingly clear that if there are not radical changes, i.e: the culmination of the revolution, this opportunity for the workers and poor will have been lost, and the Venezuelan left will have to draw the necessary lessons, if we experience the defeat of Chavez on 7 October.

We re-affirm our position of support for all the policies and reforms which have favoured the working people, and for the deepening and radicalisation of the Bolivarian revolution. We call for the formation of a broad socialist front of the left, which can transcend the Chavez’s popular electoral front, the “Great Patriotic Pole”. Such a united front should be made up of the rank and file organisations and social movements in struggle, which can convert socialism into concrete policies. Policies such as the full nationalisation of the financial system and basic industry, under democratic workers’ control, with all power to the community councils in the construction industry, could break with the bureaucratic capitalist state which has been strengthened in the last years.

Only a democratic socialist revolution will be able to guarantee us with a future, full employment etc. The idea that we can win the changes we need on the basis of the capitalist system is a con, which the right wing uses to manipulate us. Forward to a socialist revolution!

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February 2012