Caracas, December 13, 2006 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Defeated presidential candidate Manuel Rosales yesterday suggested to the different groups and parties within the opposition coalition that supported him that they unite to be a stronger force against the government of Hugo Chávez.
“I am not going to tell anybody what they have to do but dispersion [of support around multiple parties] does not help us, regarding effort and what is lost in structure and time”, said Rosales. Rosales was speaking at a meeting of the opposition at a hotel in Caracas where rival presidential candidates Julio Borges, the leader of the opposition party Primero Justicia, and Teodoro Petkoff also gave speeches.
Rosales said that if the votes for the opposition were examined, his party, A New Time (UNT) got 1.5 million votes, Primero Justicia 1.2 million and around another 40 small parties about 1.3 million.
Borges backed Rosales’ call and said that Rosales’ leadership should continue at this stage. Petkoff, who was the Rosales’s campaign manager, acknowledged that Chávez had won a majority of the votes and that what was needed was to construct a new majority. He also seemed to accept some of the government’s more policies of participatory democracy.
“We must find new spokespeople, new leaders, we have to find new activists for their cause, and we will examine that process of popular empowerment, of technical workshops, of endogenous development nuclei, of co-operatives. That process is alive in the people,” said Petkoff.
The largest opposition party Democratic Action (AD) boycotted the presidential election and called for Venezuelans to abstain. With a turnout of almost 75% that strategy clearly failed. At the time the leader of AD Henry Ramos Allup called Rosales and Borges “drunks fighting over an empty bottle” when they were competing to be the main opposition candidate. However AD split over the strategy and it could be that Rosales, Borges and Petkoff are reaching out to disaffected members of the party.
Petkoff also commented on some of the more ridiculous ideas and rumors that circulate at the more extreme end of the opposition. “There are sectors that I consider to be very small, that are still spreading rumors, even rumors so truculent and so fantastic that they could be worthy of writers of science fiction, like the one that said that they took Manuel prisoner with all his family in Fuerte Tiuna [a military base in Caracas] and they made him accept the result,” he said.
In signs that they are serious about playing a serious role in Venezuelan politics, Rosales announced policies for constitutional reform. He has proposed reducing the presidential term from 6 years to 4 and has advocated making elections to the National Assembly based on proportional representation. Chávez has said any constitutional reform would have to be put to the Venezuelan people in a referendum.