Chavez Allies Delay Decision on Merging with New Venezuelan Socialist Party

All three main coalition partners with Chavez’s party announced that they will wait until the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is formed before deciding whether to merge with it.

Caracas, March 5, 2007 (— All three main coalition partners with Chavez’s party announced that they will wait until the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is formed before deciding whether to merge with it.

In the past few days the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), Podemos, and Fatherland For All (PPT) all said that they prefer to wait and see the political program of the new party Chavez wants to launch before deciding whether to merge with it.

Chavez had called on all parties that support his government to join and form a single party shortly after his reelection last December 3rd. Chavez argued that there is too much duplication of effort and lack of coordination by having so many pro-government parties.

Currently Chavez enjoys the support from his own MVR party (Movement for a Fifth Republic), which at 42% popular support is currently the largest party in Venezuela. PCV, PPT, and Podemos, are much smaller and garner between 3 and 5% of the vote. In addition, there are about 20 tiny parties, which each have less than 1% support from the population, that are pro-Chavez. Together, the parties that support Chavez gathered a total of 63% in favor of the president’s reelection last December.

Chavez’s own MVR party has taken the lead in forming the new party by deciding to be the first party to dissolve itself.

The PCV discussed whether it would merge into the new party at its 76th anniversary celebration, which coincided with its party congress this past weekend. PCV president Jerónimo Carrera said that while the party welcomes Chavez’s invitation to form a single party, they “opt in favor of revolutionary prudence. In these types of things rushing can at times be very prejudicial.”

Carrera admitted that there was pressure on the PCV to merge with the new party, but he said, “It is very difficult to pressure the PCV.”

Similarly, PPT General Secretary José Albornoz said today his party was going to wait just as the PCV and Podemos. “We have said that we will not dissolve ourselves as a political organization and … that we will wait because I think the ball is in the court of the commission that Chavez has named [for forming the PSUV],” said Albornoz.

Albornoz did say, though, that a unified party is a good idea because what is missing is “a unity at the service of a political program, which is what is being discussed.” The unity at the service of a single candidate, Chavez, has been achieved.

Last Friday Podemos General Secretary Ismael García was the first to announce that his party would take a wait and see attitude with regard to the formation of a united socialist party. Instead, García proposed that a “constituent assembly” be organized for the party, which would gather all political forces that support the government.

“We indeed believe in a united force, but it needs to convoke not only parties, but also the political and social forces because this is the only way we can continue to build this democracy,” said García during a Podemos party congress on Friday.

García went on to say, “This assembly must meet and discuss a joint action program because among those who are in the revolutionary movement there are people from distinct lines of thought: from the far left, Marxism-Leninism, Trotskyism, to social democracy.”

Today William Lara, who is one of the directors of the MVR and is also Minister of Communication and Information, responded to the public discussion about the unified party, saying, “I assure that every Venezuelan who voted for Chavez will have a place in the PSUV, who wants to be authentically socialist, will be there.”

The initiative for forming the party, said Lara, “must be with the grassroots of the Venezuelan people.” He cautioned, though, that the unity of the movement that supports Chavez should not be confused with a “single line of thinking.” “President Chavez has called for a debate of ideas,” said Lara.