2.5 Million Venezuelans Participate in Candidate Selection of the United Socialist Party

In a massive show of support for the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), on Sunday, some 2.5 million party members participated in an historic process of electing candidates for the upcoming regional elections in November.
Thousands of PSUV members celebrate the internal elections in the Cuartel San Carlos in Caracas (ABN)

Caracas, June 2, 2008, (venezuelanalysis.com) – In a massive show of support for the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), on Sunday, some 2.5 million party members participated in an historic process of electing candidates for the upcoming regional elections in November. Polling was extended to 9 pm in the majority of states as thousands of PSUV members queued to exercise their right to vote in the elections which were monitored by the National Electoral Council (CNE).

“It doubled our initial expectations, the participation has been massive, much more than what we had hoped for,” PSUV national executive member Vanessa Davies announced to a press conference at 11:30 pm Sunday night.

“We are happy and proud of our members. We have complied with the requirements of elections by the grassroots. We have followed through with the people and the Constitution,” she added.

The Bolivarian Constitution adopted through popular referendum in 1999 requires all political parties to hold democratic elections for leadership positions and candidates. So far the PSUV is the only political party in Venezuela to meet this requirement.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who cast his vote at the Manuel Antonio Fajardo Technical School in Barrio 23 de Enero, classified the PSUV elections as “truly historic” and “without precedent in the political history of Venezuela.”

“This internal process has impacted on the entire country and the collective morale… It is a grand example of how to construct true democracy, with debates and discussion, with some problems, but a great capacity to overcome these,” Chavez said.

He called on “all political parties, in the revolutionary camp as well as in the opposition and any other political movement,” to follow the example of the PSUV. “Follow the example, in order to comply with the constitution and with what the people want,” he said.

However, the president argued, a revolutionary party cannot have winning elections as its only objective, “The objective is to ensure the permanence and advance of the revolution.”

In this sense Chavez called for a “war to death” against corruption, against cronyism, bureaucratism and inefficiency and for the re-launch of the Socialist Plan, which he initiated at the beginning of 2007.

“We need mayors and governors who will undertake the task, together with the people, to work for the construction of socialism from below…on every street corner, every municipality, in every state,” he emphasized

Those pre-candidates who obtained at least 50 percent plus one votes, or 15 percent more votes than the second highest pre-candidate, passed over to automatically be the official PSUV candidates in the regional elections.

The results released by the CNE showed those candidates automatically elected include, Aristobulo Istúriz in the Capital District of Greater Caracas, with 94.47% of the votes, Tarek William Saab in Anzoátegui, (48.79%), Rafael Isea in Aragua, (64.51%), Adán Chávez (the President’s brother) in Barinas, (90.88%), Francisco Rangel Gómez in Bolívar, (47.3% – above Manuel Arciniega, who obtained 19.29%), Mario Silva García in Carabobo, (61.15%), Estela Mariña in Falcón, (48.51% – above Melvin López Hidalgo with 28.41%)

Henry Falcón with 73% also defeated Julio Chavez (21%) in Lara, Marcos Díaz Orellana won in Mérida, (60.67%), Diosdado Cabello in Miranda, (81.97%), Giancarlo Di Martino in Zulia, (58.58%), Jorge Luis García Carneiro in Vargas, (40,26% – above Freddy Bernal with 20.61%), José Gregorio Briceño in Monagas (62.87%), and Lizeta Hernández in Delta Amacuro with (49.87- above Amado Heredia with 21.96%).

With less than 60 percent of the votes scrutinized, Wilmar Castro Soteldo appears to have won in Portuguesa, (52.21%), Jorge Rodríguez in the municipality of Libertador, (74.2%) and Jesse Chacón in the municipality of Sucre, (82.64%).

In line with a decision by a national assembly of PSUV delegates on May 9, in those eight states where no pre-candidate achieved a majority or the required winning margin, the national leadership of the PSUV will select a candidate from the top three based on a range of criteria, including “revolutionary commitment” and “ethics.” The results of these deliberations are expected to be released before Thursday.

In Nueva Esparta the top three pre-candidates were Alexis Navarro, William Fariñas and Arnaldo Cogorno; in Tachira – Leonardo Salcedo, José Gregorio Vielma Mora and Francisco Arias Cardenas;Yaracuy – Julio César León, Braulio Alvarez and José León Gutiérrez; Trujillo – Octaviano Mejía, Hugo Cabezas and William Martorelly; Apure –
Jesus Alberto Aguilarte, Cristóbal Jiménez and Wilfredo González; Cojedes – José Gonzalo Mujica, Teodoro Bolívar and Ramón Peralta; Guarico – Willian Lara, Lenny Manuitt and Juan Montenegro and in Sucre – Enrique José Maestre, Felix Rodríguez, and Yonny Patiño.

As thousands of PSUV members celebrated Sunday night in Cuartel San Carlos in Caracas, Jorge Rodríguez warned the opposition and “the lackeys of imperialism here in Venezuela” that they had better get ready for the November elections because, “We’re going all out to win the local and regional spaces.”

Poll: Chavez Supported by 57% of Venezuelans

According to the results of a recent survey by private opposition-oriented polling firm, Keller & Associates, the pro-Chavez movement counts on 57% support nationally. The same poll showed 28% support for a united opposition.

The results were announced by journalist José Vicente Rangel on Sunday during his weekly program “José Vicente Today” on private television station Televen.

Keller & Associates is a firm with a “known anti-Chavez position,” Rangel said.
Other surveys carried out by the same firm over the past week indicate that support for “Chavismo” is growing throughout the whole country, while support for opposition is declining he added.