Marea Socialista Press| Tuesday, 10/24/2017

#Editorial 25

The results of the governor elections, the economic crisis and the immediate tasks

“Is that the consolidation of an authoritarian system with an electoral makeup?”

Marea Socialista's National Executive

The results of the governor elections, the economic crisis and the unpostponable tasks

Is an authoritarian system with electoral makeup consolidated?

National Socialist Tide Operational Team

With a delay of almost one year according to what the text of the Constitution demands, on October 15 the governor elections were held. The results, for many surprising and doubtful, also have a complaint of fraud by the candidate Andrés Velázquez [1] from the State of Bolívar, a claim that if proven – and the evidence shown by Velázquez indicates that it is very likely that it happened – questions the legitimacy of the entire process.

The result, which far outweighs the forecasts of all the surveys, and which is contradictory with the climate seen on the street, opens a very important debate. We must analyze the numbers, the transparency of the process, but above all, we must take into account, whether we like it or not, the plebiscite characteristics of this election that force us to debate the political context in which the electoral process takes place and at the same time time explain the result. This context opens both the understanding of the situation in which we have entered, where the economic crisis and the need for its resolution occupies the center of the scene. But let’s go step by step …

A flawed and fraudulent process

The whole process was loaded with traps and deceptions. As we pointed out when we affirmed that the conditions in which the electoral process was taking place were completely abnormal, they were flawed, with multiple advantages and maneuvers, with a wide range of violations of the electoral law and abuses of power, to which we would have to add as shown by Andrés Velázquez, a fraud in the totalization of votes. All this was necessary to ensure that a minority of approximately 22%, as the one expressed by the PSUV today, could be imposed.

Once again to point out the maneuvers and violations of the legislation is useful so that we see the ongoing construction, step by step, of a new political system opposed by the vertex to that of the last two decades developed in the country. A false “democracy” , of which only a few “elections” would be supervised, controlled, manipulated, as a make-up of a rapacious, reactionary, right-wing authoritarianism that is handing over the Bolivarian process and the country and that is leading to humiliating conditions for the majority of the Venezuelan people.

The manifestations of this were already seen in the elections of 2015 with the elimination of parties, the substitution of directives, and the refusal to legalize others, such as Marea Socialista, in what at the time came as as the “pact of the cosmic dust and beach sand “, where both the MUD and the PSUV agreed to the exclusion of parties, leaders and political currents that tried to open a space outside of polarization. It continued with the de facto annulment of the recall referendum contemplated in the Constitution of ’99 and the suspension of the elections that were held in 2016. This mechanism was perfected and multiplied until 15O. The list of all the maneuvers and advantages is long so we will only mention some of them: Delay in the call and then arbitrary advancement and unconscionability of the elections ignoring the constitutional rule and accommodating the date to the needs of the PSUV above the law . Practical impossibility to develop a process of primaries and programmatic agreements that would facilitate the organization of oppositions from the right as well as the depolarized sectors or the left opposition. Elimination in fact of the right to substitute candidacies as established by the Organic Law on Electoral Processes. Manipulation of voter registration. Last minute change of voting centers. Intimidation and violence to prevent the vote of a sector of the population. A strong campaign to achieve the abstention of broad sectors from the government and the main leaders of the PSUV.

If confirmed Velázquez’s complaint these abuses could have reached direct fraud. That means manipulating the results records to change the winner as seen in the Bolívar State. And this process continues after the election with threats to the winners of the opposition that they will be separated from their positions if they are not sworn in front of the fraudulent constituent. And they continue with the transfer of functions and attributions of the governorates to de facto institutions or the direct intervention by the national executive of the state police. The latest news on the list is Nicolás Maduro’s public threat that elections will be repeated in states where opposition governors do not recognize the constituent [2].

In fact we are in the presence of a guarded, controlled, authoritarian electoral system. It is a new electoral architecture with a set of de facto, clientelist, social control mechanisms, as well as a containment structure through the PSUV-State machinery.

What some numbers say

In abstraction, of the fraudulent process, we will analyze some official data. With those numbers, which are not reliable for common sense, we will try to obtain a photograph of the current state of the political forces of polarization. But how to compare results? With what previous choice must be related to be able to estimate the evolution of the political situation? For us it would be wrong compared to the regional elections of 2012. The country is different. In recent months we have gone through a high intensity conflict that put the national dispute for power at the center of the scene. And therefore these elections had a strong plebiscite bias. That is why the reference point we chose is the last national election: the legislative elections of December 2015.

Seen in this way, the first thing that comes to the fore in a convincing way is that between December 2015 and October 2017 the MUD lost more than 2 million 500 thousand votes and this is perhaps the most outstanding data of the 15/O. But the result also belies the assertions of PSUV spokesmen Jorge Rodriguez who said that the ruling party had regained its vote. The reality is that he himself got 50,000 fewer votes than in the National Assembly election, which allows us to affirm that the election of 2015 was not for the PSUV a floor from which it could bounce, but a new roof, which as the integral crisis through which the country is going advances, it is more difficult to drill despite all the maneuvers. These are for us the most important numbers, because they indicate how we will develop below, not only the political dynamics, but also the situation of what are still the two main political forces of the country and sheds light on one of the government’s strategies for staying in power “no matter what”.

Another important fact that also demonstrates the plebiscite character and evaluation of the political forces that arises from the 15 / O day is the one referring to abstention. While the history of this type of election shows that participation is around 47% in this opportunity the participation was higher than 61%. From this fact, at least two conclusions are drawn: the first is that this level of participation was insufficient for the MUD to capitalize electorally on the rejection of the government, which is measured not only in the polls but especially in the mood or popular sentiment and on the other hand, the right showed its inability to mobilize its 2015 voters in a sufficient proportion so that the numbers that indicated the predictions were fulfilled. But the second conclusion, in fact the most important and which would be a serious mistake not to see or hide, is that it has been exposed, beyond its fraudulent methods, that the PSUV has significantly improved its machinery and achieved a certain cohesion to the time to put it into operation. Recognize this fact is of enormous significance and not only in the electoral field.

Thirdly, it can not be ignored that while the historical participation for national elections is about 80% average, which means, if our definition of 15 / O is accepted as a plebiscitary election, that a percentage of around the 25% of those who have usually voted, on this occasion was not pronounced either by the MUD or by the PSUV. This data is significant insofar as it ratifies the existence of a space that until today has not been possible to measure by positive votes. Although the arch of political adhesion expressed by this sector is heterogeneous, what the national and international press called “depolarized”, “critical chavism” or “chavismo discontent” that appears in the political studies in the last two years with figures of two digits , ratifying the existence of this sector is important for those of us who claim to be leftist opposition to Maduro. Because although that sector is only a part of that universe, the data indicates the existence a large space in dispute that still does not feel represented by the current poles.

Installation of the Maduro constituent, strategic defeat of the MUD and a serious economic crisis that deepens

With the developed until now it is not possible to answer the questions that were installed when the results were known. The first and perhaps the most important is: how was the climate of annoyance and even repudiation towards the government expressed in the elections? Others of similar importance are, for example: What explains the significant loss of votes of the MUD ?; Was the fraudulent method of blackmail and fear enough to achieve that result? Why if the crisis is several times more serious than the one at the end of 2015, this did not manifest itself in a punishment vote against the PSUV government?

The electoral analysis alone is insufficient to answer these questions. For this it is necessary to understand the material bases that made it possible for the phenomenon to occur in this way and not another as it happened in the legislative of 2015. The causes are multiple and of different types, however the political context is fundamental to try and look for the answers. At this point we will try to approach the keys of that context:

The crushing of the contradictory process of mobilization that took place from April to July. The foquista drift, guarimbera, of the process of mobilization against the government that began in April of 2017 worked as justification for the brutal repression that unleashed the PSUV government and that crushed the whole movement. With 156 dead, many of them in marches and rallies, more than 3,000 detainees, most of them summarily tried by military courts and imprisoned in military properties and more than 1,000 wounded, the cost of the conflict was extremely high for the sectors that came out to mobilize .

But it is important to try a definition not biased by the propaganda of the movement that began in April and that was overshadowed, diluted and neutralized by the state repression and the role of the guarimbas that helped demobilization. From our point of view, the movements in the first months were massive, at times multitudinous, based on a confused but progressive feeling of some sectors of the population that participated in it. Many of these sectors of the public believed, although illusively, that they fought for the defense of democratic rights in the face of unconstitutional abuses of the National Assembly, sincerely rejected the elimination of the right to a recall referendum and the suspension of regional elections that should have taken place in December 2016.

This progressive though vague and confused feeling of democratic struggle was ridden by the leadership of the MUD and its elitist and undemocratic project and it set the pace and ended up dismantling the mobilization to privilege the focused actions, guarimberas and the calls to the foreign interference. As we have shown in all the texts we published in that period, the MUD was also against the Constitution, especially when abandoning the demand for an electoral solution and trying to install a government and parallel institutions, seeking a coup with international support . The supremacy of the leadership of the MUD over the base sector of the movement that had diffuse democratic aspirations, is the reason why Marea Socialista discouraged participation in the mobilizations, noting at the same time the betrayal that was being prepared by the leadership of the right opposition. But when it failed to break the Armed Forces, the MUD returned to negotiations in the Dominican Republic, agreed to regional elections and capitulated to the leadership of the PSUV, abandoning to its fate the mobilization process that was completely dismantled the day after the constituent election. Not before having paid that same day for the irresponsible policy of his direction: 17 lives.

The division of this inner circle among those from above, the confusion in which the leadership of the MUD finds itself, and the lack of unity in relation to the governor’s elections before and after taking place, is a direct result of the defeat of the guarimbas and the capitulation to the Government in the negotiations in the Dominican Republic. But to this we must add another phenomenon: the demoralization of the sector, which although it rejected or did not participate in the guarimbas, accompanied the first stage of the mobilization to the MUD. This is for us one of the keys of the new situation and although its scope goes beyond the electoral result, it partly explains the loss of those 2 million 500 thousand votes between December 2015 and 15/O for MUD candidates.

The installation of the constituent a strategic defeat of the MUD. Another key lies in the installation of the constituent itself. This is the other side of the dismantling of the mobilization process. With the announcement of the constituent on May 1 the government resumes the political offensive. Regardless of the anti-constitutional nature of the convocation and the electoral bases, it was a bold bet that could only be defeated with a consistent democratic policy. But by ordering all its strategy in a wrong way, around two central axes, such as Maduro’s immediate exit and the affirmation that the constituent was not going to settle, rejecting the struggle for the restoration of the Constitution of ’99, the democratic times and steps that she establishes, the MUD built its own trap.

In this way, if the brutal repression of the government was decisive to crush the mobilization process, the betrayal of that mobilization and the irresponsible bet of playing everything to prevent the realization of the constituent with the guarimbas, caused the MUD a strategic defeat , the division and the increasing distance between the radical foquistas sectors and the electoral ones that are in their direction. Thus the installation of the constituent and the division in front of the convocation to the regional elections, caused to the MUD a double defeat to him. It is possible to affirm today that without a deep process of self-criticism, (self-criticism that on the other hand prevents it from realizing its own elitist and reactionary nature), the MUD hardly survives. And that the current division will not stop deepening, an example of this is the swearing-in of the elected governors by Acción Democrática against the constituent on October 23.

The deepening of the economic crisis, the Achilles heel of the government. But this government triumph, both with the installation of the constituent and in the electoral process, is still partial. The key to our affirmation is that if it does not respond with positive measures to resolve the colossal economic crisis that overwhelms the people who live by their work, the relative electoral success of the government could be diluted as salt in the water. The reason for this statement is that every time you are leaving less excuses for not solving the problems of the country and its people. The government already concentrates all the power of the state and also has the supra constitutional constituent, from this point of view, it is difficult to continue justifying the hyperinflationary disaster that we are living, holding a defeated and divided opposition responsible. Therefore, the fate of the government is tied to the unfolding of the economic crisis, but the contradiction it faces is that the policy developed by Maduro deepens the crisis against the people.

The underlying reason for the economic counterrevolution (this is for us the true name of the crisis) that the government is carrying out is its adaptation to international financial capital. This statement can be demonstrated in three brief steps:

Faced with the weakness of oil prices, the path of deepening extractivism was chosen with the search for contracts with transnationals in the Orinoco Mining Arc and the Oil Belt. A masked oil opening has begun, one that advances step by step. The latest example of this advance is the new Cisneros investment in an enterprise with PDVSA for 1,000 million dollars.

Another axis of its adaptation are the Special Economic Zones at the service of transnational companies and the delivery of public companies to financial capital that is already in development.

And finally, the payment of the external debt as a result, reducing essential imports of food and medicines.

This is not to mention the brutal downward adjustment of wages and family income that has taken place in the last 3 years. And the public funding without support that is generating hyperinflation.

The search for political stability in the elections for governors and the next ones that can be held, is at the service of reassuring international financial capital and providing it with certain legal security that the constituent alone does not guarantee. But the cocktail is explosive, resembling a pan accumulating pressure. A pressure that sooner rather than later can assume the form of social and political struggle, confronting the government with sectors of its own social base.

A new step towards the construction of an authoritarian system made up with “elections”

It is idle to look for comparisons with similar political systems. In any case, the differences are more than the similarities. The PSUV with an oiled machinery of violent, clientelistic and fraudulent characteristics, which did not reach its 2015 vote, aspires to avoid the name of dictatorship because of its sensitivity to international pressures and isolation. In any case, it tries to build a system that represents a lower cost than eliminating any electoral process. He needs this type of election even to try to set up a triumphalist story that regroups its base.

In the context of the absence of a reliable alternative, of the defeat of the progressive but confused and manipulated features of the mobilization process developed between April and July and the overwhelming depth of the crisis, which in this period was electorally expressed negatively, and a little over a week after the elections, it would be wrong to hide that the fact is that the 15/O It would be wrong to hide from the fact that the 15th took a step towards an authoritarian system with electoral makeup.

The tasks that are coming: fight for the rescue of the Constitution and democracy, against the embezzlement of the nation and for the construction of a political alternative

In the struggle for the recovery of the Constitution of ’99 order, we must add from the elections to governors the defense of the right to choose freely, a right that was severely damaged on the 15/O. The defense of the Constitution and of political rights and guarantees is completed with the defense of economic, social, environmental and cultural rights. We are also aware that without addressing the issue of embezzlement to the nation and the struggle for a Public and Citizen Audit of External Debt extensive to all public accounts of the nation, it will be impossible to exit the crisis in an autonomous and sovereign and recover the the standard of living of the families that live off their work, guaranteeing food and medicines and the minimum conditions that allow us to get out of the distressing situation that our people are experiencing. But these struggles, democratic and economic form a whole with the need to articulate a new political space, to build an alternative that takes the course of the struggle for emancipation. In that sense, from Marea Socialista together with members of the Platform in Defense of the Constitution, members of the Platform of the Mining Arc, of UPP89 and the Alternative Political Movement and other comrades, we began to take the first steps.

[1] Andrés Velázquez maintains his complaint of fraud in Bolívar and presents evidence.  https://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/n316074.html

[2]This editorial was written before the swearing-in of the elected governors by Acción Democrática in the National Assembly was known. That is why the crisis unleashed with this swearing in the MUD and AD has not been taken for the analysis.