Mérida, 3rd February 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – President Nicolas Maduro has announced the restructuring of the pro-government Great Patriotic Pole coalition, arguing the bloc should achieve “grassroots revolutionary hegemony” in Venezuelan politics.
The Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) was the electoral coalition under which Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez first won the Venezuelan presidency in 1998. It was reactivated in 2011 ahead of Chavez’s successful presidential re-election campaign in 2012.
There are formally twelve parties in the GPP coalition, including the government’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), Homeland for All (PTT), Tupamaros and Redes. In the April 2013 presidential election, the largest pro-government party was the PSUV (41.3%) followed by the PCV (1.9%).
Yesterday Maduro announced that the council of political parties would now meet without the GPP structure, and that a “great debate” should be held to create a “new political alliance”.
“Let’s go towards the constitution of a new political alliance of political movements and parties…a new alliance for a new historic phase,” he declared.
According to Venezuelan newspaper Últimas Notícias the parties of the GPP have not met for six months. This is partly due to disagreements over the selection of candidates for last December’s municipal elections, said Blanca Eekhout, a GGP coordinator and leading PSUV parliamentarian.
Maduro’s announcement appears to go against the wishes of the GPP’s other parties. Carlos Aquino, a member of the PCV’s political bureau, warned against the “fragmentation” of the coalition in a press conference today.
“We think that it’s a great setback for the construction of necessary revolutionary unity,” he said.
Meawhile Rafael Uzcátegui, general secretary of the Homeland for All party, said, “Many revolutions failed due to trusting that only one party was needed…unity is necessary”.
Maduro also announced yesterday that the GPP should now be formed by three councils: social movements, workers, and artists and intellectuals. He said a congress would be called to draw up a founding document for the coalition.
“We need to reassume the original project…let’s define the profile of a new historic bloc,” the Venezuelan president declared, suggesting that this bloc should be “broad and diverse”.
Maduro also attacked certain critics of his administration from within Chavismo, arguing that they launch “unfounded criticisms that serve the bourgeois press…and do damage to the revolution”.
“Put yourself in my shoes! I call the professional critics to reflection and rectification. Don’t make the mistakes that brought us to state coups and divide our forces,” he continued.
15 Years of the Bolivarian revolution
The changes to the GPP were announced in a nationally-broadcast speech to government supporters to mark fifteen years since Hugo Chavez first assumed the Venezuelan presidency and began the Bolivarian Revolution.
Maduro argued that the Bolivarian movement had come to power at a time when Venezuela was marked by “hunger, exclusion and repression”, and that Hugo Chavez had installed a new ethic in the country’s politics that even his “bitter enemies” should recognise.
“For the first time a president carried out what he promised, and what Chavez promised was to undertake a peaceful revolution, to change everything,” he said.
Maduro also argued that Venezuelans’ political values had changed in the last fifteen years, saying, “The revolution has demonstrated that it’s capable of creating good and powerful values of patriotism, of love for the nation, [and] of popular, sovereign and true democracy”.
Meanwhile on Twitter, Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez highlighted advances in healthcare, education, food security and housing as key achievements of the government over the past decade and a half.