Pro-Chavez Coalition Names Candidates for Venezuela’s National Assembly Elections

The list of pro-Chavez nominees for the December 4th National Assembly elections is ready. Those who wavered in their support of Chavez in the 2002 coup attempt will not run again. Opposition parties are trying to achieve a unified slate of candidates, but have not yet reached an agreement.

Caracas, Venezuela, September 12, 2005—The highest decision-making body of the pro-Chavez governing coalition, the National Tactical Commando, has determined the Candidates for the upcoming legislative elections of the National Assembly. The announcement was made by National Assembly (AN) President Nicolas Maduro, who said that the decision about who would run has already been made.

Venezuela will hold elections for its legislature, the National Assembly, this coming December 4th, when all 167 representatives will be elected for a new five-year term.

One of the main objectives of the candidate list will be to assure that only those who are loyal to the Bolivarian Revolution run as candidates for the Pro-Chavez coalition. This not only means that those who were elected on the Chavez slate five years ago and switched sides in the course of 2001 and 2002 would not be nominated, but also that those who seemed to waver in their support of Chavez during the April 2002 coup attempt would not be nominated.

According to the newspaper Últimas Noticias, 20 members of Chavez’s MVR party (Fifth Republic Movement) would not be nominated for a second term because of their doubtful loyalty. Currently the pro-Chavez coalition, the “Group for Change,” has 86 out of 165 votes in the AN.

Other parties that make up the “Group for Change” coalition are Podemos (We Can/For Social Democracy), PPT (Fatherland for all), UPV (Venezuelan Popular Union), and various indigenous parties. These parties, plus the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), will run again as part of the coalition. Maduro said that the participation of these different parties, “shows that we will go [to the elections] with a broad social-political alliance.”

Originally, Chavez was supposed to announce the candidates during his weekly television program Alo Presidente, but Chavez canceled the program due to a slight sickness. There was speculation, though, that program was actually canceled because the candidate list was not quite ready yet. It is presumed that the final list will be presented today or tomorrow.

“We have no doubt that this group, consisting of experienced deputies and of new candidates from diverse social and political sectors, will allow a broad victory in the upcoming vote,” said Maduro. The nominees will include representatives from grassroots groups, unions, intellectuals, cooperatives, women’s groups, and youth groups.

Chavez, however, would have the last word as to who the candidates are. According to Maduro, “He [Chavez] can express his opinion and will be the one who will make the definitive announcement, as leader of the social revolutionary group…”

For the last elections, on August 7 of this year, for city council representatives, pro-Chavez parties had organized primaries to select their nominees. However, organizational problems in the primary vote caused many Chavez supporters to complain about the procedure. This time, The National Tactical Commando (CTN) is choosing the nominees. It is quite likely that Chavez supporters will complain about this procedure, as it would represent a step backwards in assuring inner-party democracy.

Various analysts have said that Chavez’s goal is to have his coalition achieve a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, so that it can pass laws and perhaps constitutional changes more easily. Given that Chavez currently enjoys 60-70% approval rating, it is quite possible that the “Group for Change” coalition will reach this goal.

Opposition working for Unity for its Nominees

Opposition parties, which have been working on achieving a unified slate of candidates for the National Assembly elections say that they are close to reaching an agreement.

“We are not discussing if we have to go united or not. I believe that is resolved. What is being discussed is the methodology for how a Unitarian politics is achieved,” said opposition leader Timoteo Zambrano today.

On Sunday, the opposition had meant to make its announcement for an agreement, but failed to do so. Parties can present nominees to the National Electoral Council (CNE) as of Tuesday, which is the deadline opposition leaders have set themselves for reaching an agreement.