Thursday, March 02, 2006

No democracy here 

Venezuela has historically been afflicted by a lack of true political parties which base themselves on a political platform rather than the personalities of their self appointed leaders. Non-existant is the Venezuelan political party that fills its leadership roles through elections.

Of course, the Chavez led MVR, which should be leading the way on this, has had an on-again, off-again, on-again attitude towards primaries - having them for the local elections, not having them for the National Assembly elections, but now having them again for some mayoral elections. So the Chavistas attitude towards party democracy is somewhat schizaphrenic.

At least the Venezulean opposition doesn't get bogged down in any of this Chavista whishy washyness. They are very consistant in saying no to primaries. The latest example of their contempt for democracy was reported in Ultimas Noticias today. Apparently there was some discussion of primaries in the opposition umbrella group "Together for Venezuela" (Juntas por Venezuela). One of its leaders, Jesus Torrealba, said that primaries "were desireable, but improbable". He added "its not an accident that William Lara [a Chavista political leader - ow] put forth the possibility of primaries within the opposition. That would be the best gift for the chavistas because it would be a traumatic process [?!?!?!- ow] because there is not enough time to organize them and deal with any collatoral effects"

So in lieu of primaries another Together for Venezuela leader, Diego Bautista Urbaneja, proposed that potential candidates "go to the street, give their reasons for being a candidate, give their proposals, and be measured via opinion polls". Great idea, instead of primaries just have Datanalisis decide who the candidates will be. Actually, given that Chavez is way ahead even in the Datanalsis polls I wonder if the opposition would agree that the actual presidential election is unnecessary and accept to declare Chavez president for another six years based on the polls?

But finally we have yet another opposition leader, Jose Luis Farias, step up to the plate and give the real reasons:

"The idea of primaries is in the freezer, and what we are really looking for is, in the first place, a consensus between different proposals for choosing a candidate, but at this time the prinicipal thing is to advance a general opposition agenda, that is to find agreement between the different tendancies.

Primaries aren't possible because the only entity that could carry them out, SUMATE, is against participating in elections and for that reason they can't be held"

I guess it makes sense. If you don't even believe in participating in general elections why would you believe in holding internal elections? Given how badly, in their view, democracy has screwed up the country the last thing they would want is for democracy to screw up their political parties too.


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