I have repeatedly argued, whenever I have been allowed to say so, that Venezuela needs more democracy in the selection of both party leaders and candidates, because it seems as if most political parties in Venezuela were created to satisfy the ambitions of one person and that there is no common vision for Venezuela, but that of the individual leaders who create and control these parties, in ways that would make Stalin proud.
The usual argument against my idea of more democracy is that any primary-like process to elect party leadership or candidates would cost a lot of money and in the end wear out political figures.
I don’t buy it, I think that rather than “wearing out” what any primary process would do is to “weed out” those that have little acceptance by the voters, despite their personal belief that they are what the country needs. In fact, I think that a primary within a party will get little attention outside of those involved and candidates from various opposition parties could then meet at a run-off election which if held within a short period of time after the party primaries, would not be able to “damage” candidates as many believe would happen.
This all comes to mind because this weekend Chavez’ new party PSUV, held primaries to elect the leadership for the next few years. While you can criticize many things about the process, such as the fact that Government resources were massively used for a party activity, that only candidates that had Chavez’ blessing made it to the final list and the process had close control fromm party authorities, I have to praise the fact that some form of democratic process took place and that in itself is a huge progress to me.
But even more interesting, is the fact that the results were quite different from what everyone expected. The election selected principals and alternates for the party leadership and surprisingly, the man most likely to succeed Chavez if can’t run for a third (or fourth?) period in a row, Diosdado Cabello, failed to make it as a principal to everyone’s surprise. He will have to be happy as an alternate.
And he was not alone, as other leading figures of Chavismo, such as Hector Navarro, Freddy Bernal, Luis
Reyes, Rafael Ramirez, Willian Lara, Ramon Rodriguez
Chacin and Rodrigo Cabezas, also failed to make the cut as principals, as lesser figures such as Aristobulo Isturiz, Adan Chavez, Mario Silva, Jorge
Rodriguez, Antonia Munoz and Carlos Escarra did make it, proving that even almighty and seer Chavez can be wrong also about who can get elected or not in Venezuela. In fact, it is relevant to note that in a machista/militaristic Chavista leadership, seven out of the ten women won the election as principals. Similarly, only one, yes just a single one of the five former military in the running made it as principals, sort of the antithesis of the structure of the Chavez Government.
And while I certainly believe there were orders from above to vote in a certain way, I do not believe that Diosdado Cabello was not among the chosen few, nor do I believe that Aristibulo Isturiz was among those favored by the leader himself.
Which indirectly proves my point about the opposition and the need for more democracy: they should allow the party members to elect candidates and leaders, because those that they see as their “natural” leaders may be nothing more than political mirages, within their own Stalinist structures.
And the PSUV elections show this, despite the strict “controls” and candidate selections, the PSUV party members, however few of them actually voted, silently rebelled in their own way.
Maybe if the opposition allowed the people and their members to shake them up and rebel, Venezuela politics will be irreversibly changed forever.
Just because there was more democracy…