Skip to comments.Chavez's Party Vows to Hasten Social Change
Posted on 12/06/2005 1:35:21 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
CARACAS, Venezuela Dec 5, 2005 Supporters of President Hugo Chavez vowed Monday to accelerate Venezuela's shift to a "new socialism" after claiming victory in elections that were expected to give pro-Chavez politicians all 167 seats in the National Assembly.
Several of Venezuela's major opposition parties boycotted the vote on Sunday, which had an estimated turnout of 25 percent and is likely to further polarize Venezuelan society. The country has been deeply divided by the leftist leader's rhetoric, his alliance with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his efforts to seize unproductive farms for poor farmers, start state-funded cooperatives and expand social programs for the poor.
"Silence united Venezuelans," said Gerardo Blyde of Justice First, one of several leading opposition parties that pulled out days before the vote, complaining the voting system could not be trusted.
The U.S. long skeptical of Chavez's commitment to democracy and his leftist policies cast doubt on the results.
"Given that rate of abstention, plus expressions of concern by prominent Venezuelans, we would see that this reflects a broad lack of confidence in the impartiality and transparency of the electoral process," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said on Monday.
Official results were still pending Monday, but internal tallies showed Chavez's party won 114 seats and the remainder went to aligned parties, said Willian Lara, a leader of Chavez's Fifth Republic Movement party.
That would give the party the needed two-thirds majority to allow it to amend the constitution. Some lawmakers have said they hope to extend term limits for all offices, including the president.
Pedro Lander, a newly elected congressman, said Monday the new National Assembly will aim to "deepen the revolutionary process more and more."
Chavez has accused the opposition of plotting the boycott with the help of the United States as part of a larger plot to "destabilize" the country. Both Washington and the opposition have denied the accusations.
Every seat went to Chavez? Sounds like another rigged election. How is he going to seal the borders when the best and brightest start to leave en mass?
Kidnap their families.
the December 06, 2005 edition Christian Science Monitor - http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1206/p25s02-woam.html
Chávez claims boost from 'landslide' victory
Less than 25 percent of eligible voters showed up to vote in Sunday's legislative election, raising questions of legitimacy.
By Jens Erik Gould | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
CARACAS, VENEZUELA - Many voting stations across Venezuela were eerily quiet during Sunday's congressional elections as allies of President Hugo Chávez gained almost complete control over the country's national assembly in a landslide victory.
Mr. Chávez's Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) says progovernment parties have won all 167 seats in the assembly, with MVR winning 114, far surpassing the two-thirds majority needed to fast-track any legislation. Critics worry that Chávez may use his strengthened position to do away with presidential term limits.
But five opposition parties boycotted the vote, claiming that the nation's electoral authority was biased toward Chávez's allies. And fewer than 25 percent of registered voters participated in the elections, leading some critics and analysts to say there is a crisis of legitimacy.
Carlos Albrizzio, director of one of several voting centers in the opposition-dominated Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, called the elections "a failure," saying as polls closed that only 5 percent of his center's registered voters had participated.
"These people don't trust the system," he said. "They don't want to support it with their vote."
Caracas-based pollster Alfredo Keller says the low turnout raises questions of Chávez's standing. "It isn't clear that Chavez has the power over the people that he says he has," he comments.
The high abstention rate and expected dominance of progovernment parties in the national assembly could also hurt Venezuela's legitimacy in the international community.
"With this vote, it will be easier to say that Chávez is pulling all the strings in Venezuela," says Miles Frechette, international consultant and former political counselor for the US Embassy in Caracas.
"It's becoming a one-party state and that's problematic," says Prof. Eduardo Gamarra, director of Latin American studies at Florida International University. But Mr. Gamarra also said that low voter turnout did not make an election illegitimate, pointing out that midterm elections in the United States often see high abstention rates as well.
But the government and its supporters claim the opposition parties boycotted the vote because the they knew they would lose.
"They came to the fight and left when they saw that the enemy was bigger," said Chávez supporter and housewife Chrislaine Sael after voting for progovernment deputies.
"The legitimacy of this electoral process is not in question," says Ricardo Gutierrez, progovernment deputy and vice president of the national assembly, noting that congressional elections often see low participation. Almost half of voters didn't cast a ballot the last time congressional elections were held separately from presidential elections in 1998.
Opposition parties threatened a boycott if the National Electoral Council (CNE) did not remove digital fingerprint machines from polling stations, charging that they violated voter secrecy. The CNE promised last week to eliminate those machines in the voting process, but the opposition parties pulled out of the race anyway.
Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel condemned the boycott in a press conference on Saturday. Yet he did say that Venezuela could not do without an opposition.
"There are two fundamental elements of a democracy: the government and the opposition," Mr. Rangel said. "One depends on the other."
With one of those elements now missing, however, Chávez's party will now be able to pass new laws at will.
Opposition deputies and some analysts predict that government deputies will call for a national referendum that could allow Chávez to run for a third consecutive term. The president has said he wants to remain in power through at least 2021.
Rangel and Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez deny that the government plans to propose the term extension, which would require constitutional reform.
Gutierrez said that the legislative body will instead tackle proposed police, health care, and food-security laws.
Gerardo Blyde, who boycotted the election with his opposition party Justice First, said his party opposed the new police law because it would create a large centralized force. Mr. Blyde also predicted that the national assembly would pass a new education law, which he criticized for giving the state the power to decide what type of education children receive.
Milos Alcalay, a former ambassador to the UN from Venezuela, called the election boycott "a great triumph for the opposition" because the parties united to reject the government.
But the opposition will have its own challenges to confront, as the boycotting parties may be forced to collect signatures to regain official recognition.
Opposition parties are expected to seek more popular support and changes in the electoral system leading up to presidential elections next year.
Chavez, who accused the United States of orchestrating the opposition withdrawal, charged that "the hour of death has come" for the boycotting parties
Sounds like Zimbabwe without the race-baiting. In this case its the US and private business thats the enemy. How long before the VeneZimbabwe government takes complete control of the private media?? He already started his own TV station, after all.
Is he also a tool of China and how many more nations are they going to pull this is in??
He's friends with and an ally of all anti-Americans.
Not that I would ever advocate or actively support such an activity, of course. Its just that this guy is going to murder thousands of his countrymen over the next few years.
DISCLAIMER: Just in case some law enforcement type comes across this post.
When communists say this it usually means gulags and death camps for the public within a year.
Anyone with money is already in S Florida, running the price of homes up.
That was pretty good.
I had not hear about China being best buds with Chavez, however, I have read the mighty Putin has placed his footprints in that south American country.
So I'm not surprised by any of this. The writing was on the wall a long time ago, obvious to all - except the US Government, of course.
Yes: I believe he will make a change, but I doubt it will be for the better. Things are about the get bad down there.
Don worry John Kerry will back him up.
These Marxist thugs WANT the "counterrevolutionary elements" to depart the country - so that ALL opposition is removed and of course so that the property of those departing may be confiscated and distributed to themselves.
Recall the Cuban exodus in the 1960's...
Without law - the courts have been "purged" - and now no representative legislature, we are seeing before our eyes the attempt to bring about a new totalitarian state of the worst kind in our hemisphere.
It is not overreaching to conclude that Chavez is a reincarnation of Hitler and Stalin.
"expected to give pro-Chavez politicians all 167 seats in the National Assembly."
There is no way that could be the result of a democratic processs.
Good work, Jimmy Carter.
Chavez hurries to consolidate absolute power.
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