Editor’s Comment: Ramón Santiago provides an excellent explanation of how democracy works in Venezuela and how individual and “list votes” work. A careful understanding of these details is especially important for dismantling the manipulation and false claims of the opposition. In light of corporate media’s treatment of the democratic process in Venezuela, something more needs to be said about the opposition’s strategic and tactical approach. As we’ve reported earlier, the opposition had 80 seats in the National Assembly (AN) from 2000-2005. They boycotted the 2005 elections and forfeited the entire institution to the PSUV. In the past, some have judged their boycott to be a huge mistake. Others now think their boycott was a tactical decision that served a longer term strategy. It’s true that they came back in this election, winning only 65 of the 80 seats they held from 2000 to 2005. However, going from zero (0) to 65 amounts to a 6500% increase, fodder for the Chávez-grinding corporate media mill.
Moreover, one must ask what they plan to do with this sudden influx of 65 new opposition members into the National Assembly.
In an interview with opposition weekly “Quinto Día” Vice President Elias Jaua stated that he was “pessimistic” about the new National Assembly due to sit on January 5th 2011. He said that when the election results were announced by the CNE, the opposition immediately set about to break the Constitution. Opposition spokespersons suggested that the current National Assembly, which has a legal and constitutional mandate until January 2011 should consult with the new opposition deputies before passing any laws in the remaining three months of the life of this parliament.
The fact is that the new opposition deputies have no legislative powers until January 5th 2011 and so were trying to invoke a “constitutional coup” by controlling the existing National Assembly.
This attitude of disregarding the 1999 Constitution is a continuation of the April 2002 coup where the Constitution was derogated illegally by a coup government backed by the opposition. Some of the new deputies who want to legislate now for the opposition were actively involved in the 2002 coup d’état – amongst them Enrigue Mendoza and Maria Corina Machado.
Jaua expects a hard battle in the National Assembly but acknowledges that the PSUV has sufficient majority to pass most legislation but will have to defend utself against Opposition attacks, all designed to destabilize the law making process and the country as a whole.
We also think that the opposition’s 65 new members have a highly structured plan to destabilize the government through the National Assembly. The opposition’s unbroken history of violence and deception suggests that they have no interest in good faith cooperation with the majority to write new laws, support the 1999 constitution and help build a better Venezuela. Rather, we are predicting that on 5 January, the new opposition legislators will do everything in their power to create conflict, confuse and undermine the democratic process and sabotage the National Assembly. These tactics will in turn feed the international capitalist media, portraying the government as being in disarray and dysfunctional. The long term strategy has always been to overthrow President Chávez. Having failed at their attempt at a military coup in 2002, the new strategy is to enter the National Assembly through the government’s democratic process and then to initiate an institutional coup. It’s vitally important for the government to be vigilant and to prevent any such undemocratic actions by the opposition in the new National Assembly. Please read carefully, Ramón Santiago’s analysis of the ways in which the opposition has already begun to attack democracy in the 2011 Venezuelan National Assembly.
– Les Blough, Editor
Amid accusations of gerrymandering and the manipulation of how votes were apportioned in the September 26th Venezuelan parliamentary elections, the opposition has finally realized that it will have little or no influence in the new National Assembly due to be installed on January 5th 2011 as it has less than 40% of the deputies.
The fraud arguments go something like this and we will take Carabobo state as an example. How could the opposition get fewer seats in Carabobo state when they actually got more votes than the PSUV? Here are the results of the nominal (individual) vote by electoral district (cir):
|Cir. 1||MIRIAM PEREZ, Adjudicado||
|Cir. 2||VESTALIA SAMPEDRO, Adjudicado||
|Cir. 3||COCCHIOLA MICHELE, Adjudicado||
|Cir. 4||HECTOR AGUERO, Adjudicado||
|AVILA JOSE, Adjudicado||
|Cir. 5||SAUL ORTEGA, Adjudicado||
|ASDRUBAL COLINA, Adjudicado||
The results show that the five circuits are dominated by the PSUV candidates with total of 5 elected deputies against 2 of the opposition parties. In the list votes where you vote for a party, the two main parties, Proyecto Venezuela and the PSUV came out as follows:
Número de Adjudicados: 2
Número de Adjudicados: 1
Without adding the votes of the smaller parties to the Proyecto Venezuela (PRVZL) vote it can be clearly seen that Provecto Venezuela received more votes than the PSUV. As a consequences PV has 2 deputies for the National Assembly compared to the one representative of the PSUV in the list vote which covers the whole state.
Thus, the overall result in Carabobo was 6 deputies for the PSUV and 4 for the opposition or Democratic Unity Table (MUD).
In Venezuelan parliamentary elections some deputies are elected by a direct, personalized vote in the circuits (seven in total in Carabobo) and three on an overall list vote which is state wide. Just because a party gets more votes state wide in the list vote does not necessarily mean that it wins in the individual circuits or electoral districts as can be seen from the tables above.
In this case in Circuit 3, Michele Cocchiola of the opposition party Cuentas Claras has a huge majority and this contributed in great part for his voters casting their vote for an opposition party in the list vote. Hence, the MUD majority in Carabobo in the list vote.
On the other hand in Circuits 1, 4 and 5 the PSUV candidates won since they had more votes than any other individual competing candidate in those electoral districts.
The manipulation of simply saying that the MUD parties had more votes in Carabobo therefore they should have more deputies for this state obviates the fact that nominal or named deputies are decided in their respective circuits and not on a simple state wide vote. That is reserved for the list vote.
If the MUD parties did not get enough votes in Circuits 1, 4 and 5 they could not gain these seats in the National Assembly. It is that simple and democratic.
The argument being put forward by the opposition is that all results should be proportional to the number of votes, as outlined in the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution (Article 186). The number of deputies won is proportional to the number of votes received in the list vote. If proportionality is guaranteed in the list vote then the words “with proportionality” stated in Article 186 are fulfilled. Nowhere does it say in Article 186 that ALL votes are to be counted and allocated proportionally. It just says “with proportionality” and hence the list vote fulfils this constitutional precept.
This is the manipulation being promoted by the opposition and their media supporters. Each elector has multiple votes and in the case of the Carabobo example this was five votes if the voter lived in Circuit number 5 – that is, 3 for nominal deputies, one for the list vote and one for the Latin American Parliament.
To agree to the opposition’s demands for total proportionality would mean abolishing the electoral districts and have a mass vote run off statewide and then allocate deputies according to the overall result. To do this the whole electoral system would have to be changed as well as the Constitution to make it clear that all votes are to be allocated proportionally. To change the Venezuelan Constitution or to amend an Article a national referendum is required.
The opposition complaints which are getting wide coverage both nationally and internationally are aimed at discrediting the PSUV victory, the National Electoral Council and the National Assembly which passed the election laws.
This is an attack on legally, democratically and constitutionally created institutions of the Venezuelan state and a complete disregard for the voters who supported these institutions.
The opposition’s behavior is undemocratic and in order to change the electoral system to suit their interests, they would need more seats in the National Assembly than the 65 they achieved.
This means waiting at least until 2016 until they can do anything to change the electoral system but the prerequisite will be to have more voter support in the electoral districts where they failed and of which the PSUV won 64% nationwide.
Read more analysis and essays by Axis of Logic’s guest columnist Ramon Santiago by clicking here.