Sunday, March 09, 2008

Half measures a democracy don't make 

Today the new pro-Chavez political party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is holding elections for its leadership positions. The election is taking place nation wide and is being over seen by the national electoral authorities. This election will chose the 69 member leadership body of the new party.

This is the first political party to in Venezuela to chose its membership through a vote by the pary's base. As we know, essentially all political parties in Venezuela are simply the vehicle of an ambitious politician and really have no existence beyond whatever meglomaniac happens to have founded it and lead it.

Unfortunately, while it may appear the PSUV is breaking out of that mode through today's vote it isn't.

There are several reasons for this.

First, the president of the PSUV has not been elected and is not part of this voting. That person is of course Hugo Chavez.

Now undoubtedly he WOULD be elected president of the party. So it isn't an issue that HE is the president of it. The question is why isn't it being voted on? After all, even if today he is the undisputed leader of it that may not always be the case - other leaders may emerge, discontent with Chavez within the party could rise, Chavez may retire at some point, etc.

So if this is to be a REAL and DEMOCRATIC party shouldn't the president of the party be chosen by the base through some type of voting mechanism? After all, if Chavez isn't chosen through a vote to lead the PSUV how does that make this party any better than the opposition UNT party in which all the leadership is self-appointed?

Second, the party is to have a number of vice-presidents which will be chosen by the president, in this case Chavez. Again, no voting by the base involved. Where is the internal democracy?

Finally, if one looks over the list of candidates which people are to choose from they are essentially all the high level office holders currently in the government - Nicholas Maduro, Rafael Ramirez, Diosdado Cabello, etc, etc. This does make one wonder how were the people standing in this vote even chosen.

If this is a step towards internal democracy on the part of political parties in Venezuela it is so timid and small it barely qualifies as progress. As it stands, the PSUV still looks to be one more top down run political party in Venezuela. For people who want real change in Venezuela this should simply be unacceptable.


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