Leftist Parties Back Maduro as Opposition’s Henri Falcon Confirms Presidential Candidacy

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the Communist Party reached an agreement Monday.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro poses with the Venezuelan Communist Party’s flag at the PCV’s fourteenth national congress Monday, where it ratified him as their presidential candidate
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro poses with the Venezuelan Communist Party’s flag at the PCV’s fourteenth national congress Monday, where it ratified him as their presidential candidate. (VTV)
By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Merseyside, United Kingdom, February 27, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Communist Party (PCV) and the leftist Homeland for All party (PPT) have confirmed that they will back United Socialist Party candidate and current presidential incumbent Nicolas Maduro in April’s upcoming elections.

The move was announced after both parties had previously indicated that they would not automatically throw their weight behind Maduro due to concerns over his handling of the country’s ongoing deep economic crisis and what they describe as a failure to adopt revolutionary measures. 

The rift between the parties and national government reached its zenith in municipal elections in December 2017, when both the PCV and PPT supported several alternative mayoral candidates to the left of the PSUV, including the ticket of radical pharmacist and former anti-corruption czar Eduardo Saman in Libertador, Caracas.

However, on February 21, the PPT confirmed that it would support the PSUV candidate and that it would not “give up” on Maduro, while the communists revealed they would back the presidential incumbent Monday. The endorsements were the result of a series of assemblies among the parties’ membership bases over the last two weeks to decide whether to officially come out in support of Maduro, or to back another candidate.

According to statements from the Communist Party and Maduro, the PCV’s endorsement had been agreed during its fourteenth National Conference, while a political “programmatic” agreement had been reached between the two parties. 

“We have had the opportunity to work on a document in conjunction with the PCV, which brings together the agreements and proposals for the Revolution’s line in the coming years,” said Maduro. 

In the seventeen-point agreement, the PCV said that it recognised that the “growing immoral, illegal, and criminal interventionist aggression from US imperialism and its European allies in Europe against the Venezuelan Bolivarian process puts at risk the national liberation” project that had been set in motion with the election of Hugo Chavez Frias in 1998.

The two parties also agreed to promote worker control and trade unionism, extend the rights of working people, strengthen revolutionary organisations, and to work toward an “exit from the current capitalist crisis which is not in favour of the bourgeoisie and transnational companies, but rather in the interests of the people”. They also concurred that this solution needed to be focused on the construction of a new “post-rentier productive model of sovereign development based on the protagonist participation of the workers, rural workers, and communards”. 

Meanwhile, the national government additionally agreed to address the complaints made by revolutionary organisations against certain public officials, though no details were given.

Finally, the deal commits the PSUV to promote "collective and unified leadership" of the revolutionary process, which will include monthly bilateral meetings between top leaders of both parties. 

Speaking on the agreement Tuesday, Maduro said that he had received a lot of “criticism” from the PCV, but that he would work to “push forward a worker, anti-imperialist government”. 

“I have taken note of a lot of the things they proposed, there are some decisions in the area of labour in which some companies are not fulfilling the Constitution… I ask the minister [of Labour] to enforce labour stability and protection for the workers,” he said. 

For its part, the PPT confirmed it had also reached a “co-responsibility agreement” for an “ethical, sovereign, secure and productive homeland” with the PSUV candidate. 

The nine page document, which the party shared on its Twitter page, stated that there are serious issues with “sectarianism, bureaucracy and corruption” at the heart of government which need rectification, but that it was necessary to defend Maduro against “imperialism”, and the forms of “unconventional warfare” that it said are being employed against the country. 

The party also recognised that the president had, “known how to courageously defend the sovereignty and peace of the Republic and has given continuity to the majority of the social programmes which benefit our people in spite of the fall of crude oil prices and the illegal and genocidal financial blockade."

Nonetheless, the party emphasised that the agreement was not a “blank cheque” for the national government or the PSUV, and was contingent upon the government opening up policy-making spaces to the PPT and other social movement leaders. 

For his part, Maduro welcomed the agreement, stating on Twitter that he would not let the party down.

On Tuesday, the president formally registered his candidacy at the headquarters of the National Electoral Council in downtown Caracas, accompanied by tens of thousands of supporters.  

Henri Falcon

The leftist party's endorsement of Maduro comes as opposition politician and leader of the Progressive Advance party, Henri Falcon, officially confirmed that he would stand in the April 22 presidential race – in spite of the decision by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition to boycott the elections. 

Just before the window closed for candidate registration Tuesday, the former state governor of Lara defied the MUD leadership and registered with electoral authorities on behalf of his party, meaning that his name will formally appear on the electoral ticket. 

Falcon is the current favorite to beat Maduro in the upcoming elections, with polls showing he commands significant support among more moderate sectors of the opposition.

An 800-person survey carried out by center-right Datanalisis in February found that more than 75% of Venezuelans planned to vote in the upcoming elections, while 32.6% of respondents said they would opt for Falcon, as opposed to 28.4% for Maduro. The poll was conducted between February 8-16 and had a margin of error of ±3.4%.