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(en) Venezuela, El Libertario, elections 2012: the circus comes, the circus goes

Date Wed, 31 Oct 2012 09:34:33 +0200


The editorial collective of El Libertario nodo50.org/ellibertario examines the current political situation in Venezuela; electoral demagogy is the order of the day. ---- In the ever present electoral spectacle that has been the norm in this country, 2012 will pass as the year when the electoral show presented first the main attraction (the presidential poll of October 7) relegating to December 16 the filler candidates who will display their modest charms in the contests for state governor and regional legislative councils. Thus continues, non-stop and even hurriedly, the hypnotic script of elections to which the authoritarian powers of State and Capital have subjected the oppressed majority and its efforts towards autonomy in their social struggles. In fact, if there’s something for those powers to celebrate, it is the way they have re-legitimized representative democracy and its electoral mechanism, almost fully spent by the 90’s.

- The gamblers and their game

Chavez won and it is not surprising. The fascination with the populist
leader who’s managed to build strong emotional links with an important
segment of the population remains in force in its essentials. He had at
his disposal the extremely advantageous use of the State’s machine to run
an overwhelming electoral campaign, fully emotional (its main slogan:
“Chavez, the heart of the country”), using the affection elicited from the
illness of the candidate/commander, the fear of losing officially promised
benefits in case of defeat, therefore reinforcing the so-called “ballot
economy” that steers voters in two directions (polarization) where both
sectors base their legitimacy on elections with the resulting discardand
minimization of any different expectations, in a fight where they define
the rules and the rest of us just follow the carnival.

Chavez wins 21 out of 23 states (except Merida and Tachira). He loses in
seven out of the eight cities with over 500,000 inhabitants, except Ciudad
Guayana. He wins most other cities and the countryside. Such victory is
less convincing than the one of 2006, rendering questionable not only the
December round of elections but also the scenario for social struggles and
mobilizations. As we show on the table below, even when Chavez increases
his absolute number of votes, the percentage diminishes, and opposition
from the right and the social-democrats increases significantly. This kind
of electoral victory is more costly for the government every time,
achieved by financial expenditures, corruption and bribery in such a scale
that not even the huge oil income can take (see the illuminating article
by J.C. Jimenez in
periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com/2012/10/para-el-debate-lo-peor-que-le-paso.html).

Comparison of presidential elections 2006 – 2012
2006 (%) 2012 (%)
Registered voters 15,784,777 (100) 18,830,149 (100)
Abstaining 3,994,380 (25.3) 3,667,921 (19.48)
Rejected ballots 160,245 (1.02) 287,325 (1.53)
Valid ballots 11,630,152 14,858,771
Chavez won 7,309,080 (46.3) 8,185,120 (43.47)
Opposition won 4,292,466 (27.19) 6,583,426 (34.96)
Difference 3,016,614 1,601,694
Other candidates 28,606 (0.18) 90,225 (0.48)
[CNE Official figures, see www.cne.gob.ve]

A very important reason for the recent presidential victory is bound to
become a principal problem for the regional candidatures: Chavez’s
charisma does not transfer to those candidates, whose success depends in
large part on making the Comandante a player in the campaign, something
quite difficult now due to his failing health. As if that weren’t enough,
the designation by presidential order of the Bolivarian candidates to the
23 governorships –evidence that this process only leads to more caudillos-
will clip the wings of those aspiring “revolutionaries”, as they
confrontincumbents who for the most part have a patina of legitimacy as
they won their posts in previous regional elections. Confirming the above
we have what the polling outfits that foresaw the results of October 7
have said in fairly close terms: that the elections of December 16 will
be different, with the opposition poised to win more contests,
particularly in the more populated regions.

On the opposition’s side, the illusion of victory many of them held weeks
prior to Election Day did not materialize, turning in the following days
into verbal or written expressions where what’s worrisome is not the
depression the defeat caused in some, but the semi-racist contempt towards
the sectors that rejected their line, to say nothing of those who
denounced as fraudulent an electoral process that up until October 7 they
upheld as “the only way”. As we write this, their leaders’ challenge is to
raise the spirits of their frustrated hordes, encouraging them with the
hope of better results in December, as much of Chavez’s electoral capital
will dissipate when transferred to regional Chavism, which will be
affected by the “punishment vote” against inept bureaucracy, and also
because the leader’s personality cult will brakes the development of local
leadership which would mobilize the electorate.

- What can be said from an anarchist perspective?

For our collective it’s important to settle some details:

1) The people eligible to vote are split in three large minority
groupings: those who vote for the government, those who vote for the
opposition and those who abstain. In elections held during Chavez tenure
no group has won by itself against the sum of the other two.

2) In 2012 abstentions and null ballots (21.01%) are less percentage-wise
than the same figure (26.32%) in the elections of 2006. It has been the
lowest of any elections in which Chavez took part, but it is even bigger
than what was the norm for general elections in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
Also, according to official estimates in 2012 there were 800,000 people
eligible to vote who have not registered at all.

3) As anarchists committed to our socio-political idealand our proposal
vs. the national reality, we have called for active abstention from voting
in elections that are essentially instruments to control and put an end to
autonomous social mobilizations.

4) We will stay the course because in spite of the huge electoral
blackmail of the past few months at least one out of every five people do
not participate in this cheating farce, which gives us an important
space/base for action. Likewise, there are many collective mobilizations
far from the script that State and Capital wish to impose (see examples in
periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com and www.derechos.org.ve), a clear
signal that the quest for autonomy for the social struggles we support is
alive.

@pelibertario - http://periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com
www.nodo50.org/ellibertario - ellibertario@nodo50.org
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