To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
October 23, 2017
RE:Venezuelan regional elections
On October 15, regional elections were held in all the states of Venezuela for new governors and state legislatures. The Maduro government, which has lost so much support that it had to replace the Venezuelan National Assembly in order to stay in power, did better than many expected. The main electoral opposition is the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD in Spanish), which is dominated by the right-wing, but there is also a large mass opposition to the Maduro government by the ordinary people, who are upset by the deep economic crisis, the repression, and the rampant corruption. At the time of the National Assembly election in 2015, which it won, MUD used to have more of a mass character, but it has lost much of it due to its inability to accomplish anything, the squabbling of its various factions, and the contradiction between its class interests and those of the working masses.
The Chavista government, having lost badly the 2015 national legislative elections to MUD, has concentrated all power in the Maduro presidency. This year Maduro called the revision of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution for the purpose of removing the 2015-elected legislature altogether. It couldn't do this under the democratic promises of the 1999 Constitution, established back then by the Chavista movement when it was popular and bringing reforms to the masses. But now, to revise this constitution, the Maduro government called for a Constituent Assembly, to be elected under the rules which Maduro specified; for example, one-third of the seats would represent, not election districts, but social organizations designated by the government. After its election, the Constituent Assembly moved to strip the National Assembly of its power.
The next set of elections was the October 15 regional elections. The MUD coalition had boycotted the Constituent Assembly election, and again declared their mistrust of the electoral process, but nevertheless sought to participate in the regional races. There was significant doubt that a fair vote would be allowed, but the many polls showed that the Maduro government was very unpopular, and the opposition did not totally want to shut the door on making some gains.
The results were marginally positive for the Maduro government. The percentage of the population that actually voted was over 60%, and the number of votes in all the states that were cast for pro-Maduro (PSUV and its allies) candidates was 52%. This wasn't a large vote of confidence in the regime, but it wasn't a defeat either. Eighteen of the states elected PSUV-supported candidates, and five elected MUD-supported candidates.
There were also some tampering with the election process by the government, and moreover the Maduro government may throw all opposition governors out of office just as it threw the legislature out: it is insisting that all newly-elected governors take an oath before the new Constituent Assembly, which the opposition is not likely to do. But these results, if they can be taken as showing a rough representation of the sentiment of the population, showed significant dissatisfaction with both camps and a large amount of abstention. Whereas before the elections, there were estimates that MUD might pick up a large number of governor positions, actually, they did not. At the same time, the PSUV forces have experienced a net loss of two governor positions from the last time, but they seem to have blunted the opposition for now. Nor has the working class section of the opposition liberated itself from the right-wing forces that dominate MUD. Meanwhile the economic crisis continues, and much of the population is experiencing great misery. Many people talk of leaving the country to look for better job possibilities elsewhere, and there is little enthusiasm for trying to make something out of the existing situation.
By Phil West, Seattle Workers' Voice <>
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