Mérida, July 29, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who is also the president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), gave a one-week ultimatum to the rest of the parties in the pro-Bolivarian Revolution coalition known as the Patriotic Alliance to decide whether they will unite behind PSUV candidates in the regional and local elections scheduled for November 23rd.
“If this week you have not come to an agreement, leave me alone with my [PSUV] candidates,” Chávez told the coalition members, which include Fatherland for All (PPT), the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), the Electoral Movement of the People (MEP), the United Party of Venezuela (UPV), the Youth Party (PJ), and smaller regional parties.
Vowing never to give into the “blackmail” of those who say the revolutionary parties are divided, the president dared his allies to replace their “diatribes and declarations” with decisive action and run their own candidates.
“You will disappear!” he told them, pointing out that they lack the base of support that the PSUV mobilized through its unprecedented primary elections last June, in which 2.5 million members voted. He said the PSUV, which is by far the largest party in the coalition but has not attended coalition meetings for five weeks, “doesn’t need” the other parties’ support.
“If [the PSUV] had left you alone, there would never have been a revolution here! Never!” Chávez told his allies.
The president also asserted that some members of the Patriotic Alliance have been “disloyal” by supporting candidates who did not win in the PSUV primaries and planning to capitalize on Chávez’s losses.
“In the end, the leaders simply never recognized and will never recognize my leadership. They have other projects: Chavismo without Chávez,” said the president.
In response to the ultimatum, leaders of the PCV and PPT reaffirmed their support for Chávez as the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, but maintained their intention to run separate candidates at a critical distance from the PSUV in some states.
“We will accompany you whether you like it or not, because inexorably history has made us walk the common path that is socialism,” PPT General Secretary José Albornoz told Chávez.
However, Albornoz said the process of selecting candidates has been “one-sided” because the PPT is supporting 13 PSUV candidates for governor and 100 for mayor, while the PSUV “does not support us in any place.” Albornoz demanded that Patriotic Alliance members be treated as “co-authors” of the revolution rather than subordinates.
Similarly, PCV General Secretary Oscar Figuera assured that his party “will continue in the Patriotic Alliance, because we are revolutionaries and we have a commitment to the Venezuelan People.”
However, the PCV “does not depend on governors and mayors for its existence,” and the alliance should be “strategic,” not purely election-based, said Figuera.
Thus, “if we do not arrive at an agreement when we discuss the issue of candidacies, no problem…it will be the People who determine which is the option,” Figuera asserted Monday.
The PCV leader also criticized the nascent PSUV for being “a poly-class party, where the contradictions get deeper and deeper.” In some states, the PSUV candidates “obey the interests of economic groups that act like delinquents” Figuera said.
“In order to be able to really advance in a revolutionary direction… we ratify our candidates where the PCV has presented them,” concluded Figuera.
The PSUV invited both the PCV and the PPT, which Chávez called “micro-parties,” to a crucial meeting Tuesday evening to define their alliance before August 5th, which is the deadline to announce official candidacies to Venezuela’s 23 governor’s offices and 342 mayor’s offices.
According to a recent poll carried out in 9 major Venezuelan cities by the Venezuelan Data Analysis Institute (IVAD), 28.2% of voters sympathize with the PSUV, while PPT garners 3.8% support. Among opposition parties, which are also amidst negotiations of unified candidacies, Justice First (PJ) commands 4.7% support, A New Era (UNT) and Democratic Action (AD) both have 3.8%, and 1.5% of voters sympathize with the Christian Democrats (COPEI).
The first Vice President of the PSUV, Alberto Muller Rojas, who spearheaded candidate negotiations within the Patriotic Alliance last June, commented Monday that the PSUV “cannot break the structure that we have set up on the basis of participation,” referring to the internal party elections, and replace this with “negotiations among leadership cliques.”
Regarding the PCV and PPT, Muller lamented, “They say things, but they do not do things,” and said their public “attacks” are an “attempt to divide the popular movement.”
In the opinion of Gonzalo Gómez, a PSUV leader in Caracas and co-founder of the popular online revolutionary forum Aporrea.org, the PSUV is indisputably the most effective political organization in support of the Bolivarian Revolution.
“The life of the Venezuelan Left passes through the PSUV,” said Gómez in an interview with Aporrea. “Patriotic Alliance parties honestly support the revolutionary process, but are not representative of the new, the original, revolutionary impulse of President Chávez.”
Gómez added that while the PSUV may harbor bureaucratic and reformist tendencies within its ranks, it is also home to more leftist “ideological currents” which are in line with the PPT and PCV, but which do not “fall into self-referred vanguardism” like those parties do.