Members of Venezuelan Opposition form “Progressive” Coalition for 2012 Presidential Elections

On Thursday members of the Venezuelan opposition formed a new “progressive” political coalition which includes numerous political forces that once backed President Hugo Chávez. 

By Juan Reardon – Venezuelanalysis.com
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PPT Secretary General José Albornoz speaks at the 2 June 2011 inauguration of the Progressive Front for Change, or Frente Progresista por el Cambio (Globovision)
PPT Secretary General José Albornoz speaks at the 2 June 2011 inauguration of the Progressive Front for Change, or Frente Progresista por el Cambio (Globovision)

Mérida, June 3rd, 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Thursday members of the Venezuelan opposition formed a new “progressive” political coalition which includes numerous political forces that once backed President Hugo Chávez.

The Progressive Front for Change, or Frente Progresista por el Cambio (FPC) in Spanish says it intends to help the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) win next year’s presidential elections. MUD is an attempt by the opposition to unite all of the parties who are against the Chavez government. It was formed to prevent competition among the numerous opposition parties and to bring opposition voters together. 

“The Democratic Unity Roundtable alone can not win the [2012 presidential] election, can not defeat Chavez,” said José Albornoz, Secretary General of the center-left Homeland for All (PPT) which has joined and broken ranks with Chavez on numerous occasions, including last year’s National Assembly elections.

“We often find many people who consider themselves to be of the opposition, but who do not associate themselves with the MUD…people who seek a space for political participation…We want to reach those social sectors, the many people who are dissatisfied,” said Albornoz.

The PPT, which won two seats in last year’s National Assembly elections, is joined in the FPR by the broad-based social-democratic Party (Podemos), Red Flag (Bandera Roja), the Movement Toward Socialism (Movimiento por el Socialismo / MAS), Popular Vanguard (Vanguardia Popular), the R Cause (Causa R), the People Emerging (Gente Emergente), and Venezuela’s Ecological Movement (Movimiento Ecológico), among others.

Albornoz explained that all of the parties that make up the FPC, except for the R Cause, have supported the Chavez government at some point. “We thought he [Chavez] represented a hope, but what’s important now is to not talk about right or left, but to talk about progress,” he said.  

Speaking at Thursday’s FPR inauguration, Ramon Gallup Aveledo, executive secretary of the MUD, stressed the importance of unity.

“Everyone chooses their path, their conditions, their way of moving forward; what matters is that all paths lead towards unity,” said Aveledo. The opposition spokesmen also offered his coalition’s support to the FPR, saying that “the MUD is like a house in the neighborhoods (barrios)- there is always room for one more.”

Opposition legislator and outspoken Chavez critic, Ismael García (Podemos), reiterated Aveledo’s calls for collaborations between the MUD and the newly established FPR.

“We are not here to compete with factors that make up the [MUD], instead we are here to extend our hands to those in the country who are disillusioned and are looking to come together,” said García. 

García said the FPR “must work together to achieve its sole objective, which is to win the presidency of the republic,” he affirmed.

According to US diplomatic cables written from the US Caracas embassy and released earlier this year by Wikileaks, the Venezuelan opposition is considered too “top-heavy and media-focused with little grassroots reach,” leaving US diplomats concerned about the MUD’s chances at winning the December 2012 presidential elections against PSUV candidate Chavez.

“Despite almost 10 consecutive years of decreasing political influence, many in the opposition remain unable to sacrifice their personal agendas to confront the larger threat,” the US cables concluded.   

The MUD, founded in 2008, won 64 of 165 National Assembly seats in last year’s elections. According to the MUD’s Aveledo, the opposition’s candidates received 52% of the total number of votes cast nation-wide. However, Chavez has refuted this claim, reporting that the PSUV and its allies received 5,422,040 votes, compared to the 5,320,175 received by MUD candidates. 

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