Mérida, May 7, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Thousands of Venezuelans came out yesterday in Caracas and in four other Venezuelan states to register for the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The nationwide process has the objective of uniting all the factions that support the Chavez government behind one political party with the mission of building socialism in the country. To emphasize the importance of the new party, President Hugo Chavez canceled his weekly TV program Aló Presidente yesterday in order to register himself in the new party.
In a process that began last week and will continue for a total of 6 consecutive Sundays, thousands of Venezuelan are participating in the registration process for the new United Socialist Party. The process, organized and carried out with the support of the National Electoral Council (CNE), has so far included the Capital District of Caracas, as well as the states of Lara, Cojedes, Miranda, and Zulia. Initial numbers indicate that they could reach as many as 200,000 to 250,000 registered members in the Caracas metropolitan area alone.
"Never before has there been a process like this" in Venezuela, assured the Minister of Energy Rafael Ramirez. "The United Socialist Party goes much further than what has been the custom of imposing elite solutions from the top down in Venezuela," said the minister.
The party is being built from the ground up in a process that will first register thousands of party members, who will later discuss and develop the direction and ideology of the party. After the six-week registration process, the party members will be responsible for electing delegates for a party congress to construct the political program of the party. Once constructed, the political program must be approved in a party-wide referendum.
Ramirez emphasized the value of the process, explaining that "it starts the bottom" and later moves toward the formation of the party. "When this process is finished we hope to have the most influential political party that has ever existed in the country," he said.
President Chávez announced the plan for the united party last December after he was reelected as president. The purpose of the single party is to unite the around 24 political parties that support Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution behind one party and to strengthen the movement on its path to “21st century socialism.”
"A new party is being born here and it has to be new in every sense," said Chavez after going through the registration process himself in the famous Caracas barrio of 23 de Enero. "We are beginning a new period in which we have to leave behind the old model of the old parties, not only in Venezuela but in the whole world," he said.
Chávez hopes that the party will be formed by the end of the year, uniting all the pro-Chavez forces, but he has been met with some opposition to the plan. Three of the main parties in his coalition, the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), Podemos, and Patria Para Todos (PPT), all showed resistance to dissolving their parties. Many leaders and members from these parties, however, have already said they would join the new united party.
Chávez characterized the process as "successful" after reviewing the numbers with the Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez, who was observing the process in the state of Zulia. Rodriguez stated that the goal was to reach an average of 60 registered members per registration table.
Rodriguez released the numbers today in a press conference expressing his satisfaction with the high turnout in all of the states. In Caracas there was an average of 68.5 people per registration table. In Zulia they had 127 per table, and in Miranda 69. The states of Lara and Cojedes also reported high turnouts with 72 and 117 respectively. Overall the average came to 89 people registered per table.
Officials expected to have around 475,000 participants in the registration process this weekend, but had already had more than 600,000 with only 85% of the tally counted. Overall, the turn out was 28.5% higher than the national goal according to Vice-President Rodriguez.
For the next weekend of May 12th and 13th, the registration process will be expanded to include the states of Anzoátegui, Aragua, Carabobo, Amazonas, and Bolivar.