United Socialist Party of Venezuela to Negotiate Candidates with Patriotic Alliance

Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Alberto Muller Rojas, announced the formation of a commission to resolve differences within the pro-government coalition of political parties and to negotiate candidates for the upcoming state and local elections scheduled for November 23.
PSUV vice-president Muller Rojas (EFE)

Caracas, June 16, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Alberto Muller Rojas, announced on Saturday the formation of a commission to resolve differences within the Patriotic Alliance – a coalition of political parties that support the Bolivarian revolution headed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – and to negotiate candidates for the upcoming state and local elections scheduled for November 23.

“The most important thing is to look for a methodology in order to resolve differences and achieve an almost perfect alliance, understanding that each party wishes to maintain its identity” the PSUV vice president said.

Tensions have surfaced within the Patriotic Alliance (which includes the PSUV, Homeland for All (PPT), the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), the Electoral Movement of the People (MEP), the United Party of Venezuela (UPV), the Youth Party (PJ) and a number of regional parties), in recent weeks as some of the smaller parties have complained that the PSUV is unwilling to negotiate candidates for the upcoming elections.

On June 1 the PSUV held an unprecedented internal election process, in which some 2.5 million party members, totalling 15 percent of the electorate, went to the polls to select party candidates.

However a week later, on June 8, Müller Rojas assured that the PSUV would be willing to negotiate the withdrawal of those candidates that did not obtain 50% plus one votes or at least 15% more votes than the next highest pre-candidate in the party’s internal election process.

“The strong candidates, who were elected for their leadership and are legitimized by the grassroots of the party, are immovable and non-negotiable, there will only be the possibility of changing those candidates for mayors and governors where the candidate proposed by the Alliance has more support,” he said during an interview on the program Sundays with Díaz Rangel, broadcast by Tves.

This would mean that gubernatorial candidates for eight states – Apure, Cojedes, Guárico, Nueva Esparta, Sucre, Táchira, Trujillo and Yaracuy – would be up for negotiation, as well as a total of 134 candidates for mayors.

However, José Albornoz, secretary general of the PPT responded yesterday that for his party the only person who is “immovable” is President Hugo Chavez.

“We are in a difficult situation (in the Alliance). They have put us between a rock and a hard place and we’re not going to remain with our arms crossed. They have put us in the position of looking for and making alternative propositions; that is to say, we are going to launch candidates for mayors. In the case of the governorships we will carry out work to see how we can support them,” he said during an interview on the program José Vicente Today, on Televen.

“We are clear that we are not going to support candidates of the opposition and we are going to play to win for the process (the Bolivarian revolution),” he declared.

Last week the PPT announced that they would present 200 candidates for mayors and up to 10 candidates for governors, including Carlos Martínez in the state of Sucre; José Albornoz in Guárico; Gustavo Hernández, in Carabobo; Bella Petrizzo in Portuguesa and Father Vidal Atencio (not a PPT member) in Zulia.

Despite differences with the PSUV, Albornoz assured on Sunday that he would be willing to renounce his candidacy in Guárico if it risked the possibility of opposition forces winning in that state. He said he hoped that PSUV candidates would do the same.

In the 2004 regional elections the PPT won two governors, Liborio Guaralla in Amazonas and Eduardo Manuitt in Guárico, however with the formation of the PSUV in 2007, Manuitt left the PPT to join the new party.

During his weekly television program, Alo President on Sunday, President Chavez announced that Manuitt had been expelled from the PSUV.

“He is out of the party” said Chavez who only days before had asked Manuitt to withdraw comments attacking the selection of William Lara as the PSUV candidate for the state of Guárico.

“He wanted one of his daughters to be the candidate. Well she didn’t win, man! If she had won, she would have been the candidate, but this was not so.”

In the PSUV’s internal elections William Lara narrowly defeated Lenny Manuitt, daughter of the governor and president of the Legislative Assembly in Guárico, winning 43.01% of the vote to Manuitt’s 40.01%.

“He is no revolutionary, he is irresponsible!” Chavez added, “We don’t lose anything with Manuitt gone. Even better, we gain with false revolutionaries gone from the party.”

Chavez also criticised Manuitt’s conduct during his term as governor, in particular his attempt “pistol in hand” and “utilizing the police of Guárico” to defend a large land holding against a legal proceeding implemented by the National Land Institute (INTI) to redistribute the land to peasants in compliance with the Land Law of 2001.

The case occurred in 2006 at the El Roblecito property of Pablo Manuitt, brother of the governor. Chavez, who referred to the case during Alo Presidente earlier this year, said he had to send the army in to protect the peasants who were to receive the land. He also said that governor Manuitt had threatened the president of INTI with a pistol.

Manuitt is also facing charges of physically assaulting a mayor in his state.

As yet the PPT, which has publicly defended Manuitt on several occasions, has not confirmed whether he will be reincorporated into their party after his expulsion from the PSUV, however, unofficial reports have surfaced that they are considering standing him as candidate for governor for the state of Apure.

In an interview today, broadcast on state television station VTV, PCV National Secretary, Carlos Aquino said that in the context of the PSUV’s internal elections “the most important thing is that space continues to exist for the articulation of diverse revolutionary forces.”

“We welcome this space that is consolidating” Aquino added and said the idea is “to walk together to construct consensus with the aim of obtaining victory in the November elections.”

Venezuelan opposition parties are also aiming to run a united campaign in the regional elections and say they will reach agreement over candidates by the end of July.

New Opinion Poll

According to the results of the latest opinion poll by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD) released on June 13, 73.9% of Venezuelans consider the record of President Hugo Chavez as “good” while 22.8 consider Chavez´s record as “bad.”

In contrast, only 17.5% consider the comportment of the opposition parties as “good” while 43.2% view the opposition as “bad.”

The same poll showed that 45% of Venezuelan’s identify with pro-government parties, 22.7% identify with opposition parties and 32.4% consider themselves to be independent.