Well, as one friend pointed out, these elections took place following difficult economic conditions, in which governments on a global level have been very unpopular. Nevertheless, my feeling is that these results are a reflection more of political than economic discontent.
A lot of “good” revolutionaries felt that they couldn’t, in good conscience, vote for the PSUV, given the high levels of corruption, bureaucracy, and top down decision making that go on with in it and the government and that as activists, we face and confront daily as we try to build popular power. Personally, I think I would have voted for the PSUV (if I could) but it would not be an easy decision.
It is also very easy for the opposition (by that I mean the organised into parties opposition, not those with constructive criticisms) to criticise the Chavez government, some of its criticisms based on real things but perhaps exagerated, others made up and manipulated- and its easy for people to agree with those criticisms without necesarily being concerned that the opposition offers no alternative in terms of proposals for solutions.
Never the less, like any loss (going by the parlalatino results the PSUV only got about 200,000 votes more than the opposition) we can hope that there are positive outcomes, that its a show of discontent with the PSUV that will be listened to and will have an effect within the PSUV, and that the movements and organised communities become less dependent on the laws perhaps. I wouldn’t say that they are completely dependent on the laws actually, but its true that over the past 5 years, law making has become stand in for real change on many levels, perhaps because it was easy for the government given its 2/3rds majority.
While the laws (and budgets etc) help us, the education law that was passed for example, has had fairly minimal effect on the way schools are organised.
Finally, I think a lot of people- outside and inside of Venezuela, were seeing these elections as a kind of test for the presidential elections in 2012. On the one hand, the high result by the opposition (5 million votes for parlatino i think is one of the highest ever opposition total votes) hopefully means the opposition will feel less tempted to use to coups and undemocratic methods to get rid of Chavez, knowing they stand a chance in 2012. Of course, they will have to really get their shit together if they are to find unity and a candidate that could successfully challenge Chavez.
For us and for the government, hopefully its only a wake up call, a note that the government shouldn’t rest on its laurals, or relax in confidence, but rather, should step up its act.