Venezuela: Is This a Turning Point?

Posted on the 22nd January 2016 by Sumeeta, Communications Coordinator

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On December 6th, elections took place in Venezuela where the opposing Democratic Unity Roundtable unexpectedly achieved the majority, overthrowing the long-established United Socialist bloc.

The main parties involved in the ballot were the innovative Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD) and the ruling United Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV).

The MUD, born in 2008, is the Chavez’s contrasting coalition, enclosing centrist, centre-left, left and centre-right parties. *The main aim of the alliance is to promote an overall change in the Venezuelan society through the accomplishment of the following goals. *

Firstly, the strengthening of Venezuelan democratic system, thanks to a more transparent and representative political structure. Secondly, the enforcement and guarantee of human rights, including the UDHR’s ones such as the right to free education and the right to social and legal equality. Thirdly, the consolidation of national sovereignty, through the reduction of corruption in the public organizations. Lastly, the pursue of social reforms to reach justice, freedom and productivity in order to increase the overall social welfare.

Consequently, the party intends to accomplish them through the direct restore of the national constitutional principles that lack in the daily life of the citizens. Due to these reformist purposes, the MUD is an activist alliance whose main tool is the united participation of the Venezuelans for the improvement of the country.

Instead, the PSUV is a radical socialist party born after the Bolivarian Revolution, whose leader was Hugo Chávez, followed by Nicolás Maduro. The original charismatic leader and the successor have established the party’s political agenda on the defence of the revolution, promoting socialist ideas of popular power, planned economy and controlled production whose core principle is national sovereignty. Furthermore, it pursues the central regulation of the international implications of these activities, seeking alternatives alliances to the traditional neo-liberal ones. As a result, Chávez’s plan was the creation of a unique left-wing party governed by a bottom up structure, where governors fairly reflect popular participation.

However, the overwhelming victory of the MUD is evidence of the inefficient United Socialist Party’s plan, signalling the authoritative features it acquired and highlighting the social, economic and political problems that the country is facing. The support for the new party consisted of 58% of the total voting, providing the MUD with a 3/5 majority in the National Assembly.

This victory implies a broad acquisition of executive powers, like the implementation of the amnesty law to liberate political leaders imprisoned by Maduro. Despite the additional attainment of function, the new ruling party needs to use it carefully because of the sympathizing socialist legislatures. The Supreme Tribunal exemplifies this political conflict; the MUD will appoint 18 of its judges who would join the 12 chose by Chávez, therefore incurring in self interested contrasting visions on the proposals of the coalition. In addition to this, the difficulty of the negotiation between the two factions may represent a further obstacle for the recovery of the country. In fact, the PSUV used to have general recognition and power thanks because of the military, pro-government militias and gangs that Chávez established, therefore being a unipolar strong presence in the social system. Despite the persistence, the following leader Maduro lacked this spirit of cohesion, that, altogether with the poor economic reforms, led to a general political loss of popularity.

Besides the legal and civic aspects, the rise of the democratic party should aim for economic improvement of the country. Nevertheless, at present, the falling oil prices and 2016 expected inflation of 200 percent will cause further contraction of the economy, preventing MUD reforms.

In conclusion, the rise of the Democratic Unity Roundtable may represent the turning point for Venezuela. However, to what extent will it be able to enforce the Constitution’s principles with respect to the United Socialist Party? Therefore, the best option now would probably be a joint agreement between the two blocs exploiting the singular different perspectives to provide the citizens with an effective reform of the economic, legal, and social apparatuses of the country.

Written by Orsola Robasto, Communications Team Member

Sources:
1. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/order-from-chaos/posts/2015/12/08-three-things-about-venezuela-election-results-trinkunas
2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-35024619
3. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/venezuela-heads-polls-crunch-legislative-election-151206161715936.html
4. http://unidadvenezuela.org
5. http://www.psuv.org.ve
6. http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/4929

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