domingo, 29 de enero de 2012

Laura Rojas: Venezuela’s United Opposition Advances

For the past several years, Venezuela’s political landscape has been shifting.  The political opposition, too long crushed by the overwhelming forces of the government, has started to win.  After several years of patiently building upon victories and quietly creating unity; Venezuela’s United Opposition has established itself going into the October 2012 elections as the country’s primary political force.   

There is important evidence that demonstrates this fact. Starting in December of 2007 when the Venezuelan people voted down an effort to radically alter Venezuela from a Constitutional Republic to a Socialist State, Venezuela’s opposition has been scoring victory after victory at the polls. Most recently, in September of 2010 during the parliamentary elections, the opposition received almost 5 percent more votes that the government – this despite the dirty tricks that unpopular governments all too often use to swing elections in their favor.

Building upon that victory, the Venezuelan opposition has consolidated itself under a new banner: the Table for Democratic Unity (MUD for its acronym in Spanish). Currently the MUD brand has achieved a more than 30 percent favorability rating, the highest of any political organization in the country, including the government’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

MUD’s overarching goal is to bring electoral victory to the opposition in order to establish a government of national reconciliation which can – at long last – bring peace, prosperity and well-being to all Venezuelans in equal measure. Only through this hard-won act of unity will MUD be successful in at long last rebuilding a shattered country.  
And the stakes could not be higher.    

For this reason, and understanding that the opposition is facing its most difficult challenge yet, MUD has made important advances with an eye toward the October 2012 election.  The first has been a commitment to participate in the elections at all levels. The October elections are not only for president, but for mayors and governors as well. This has meant negotiation and agreement from the municipal level on up to the national, in order to assure that there is only one opposition candidate facing the corresponding candidate of the government. 

The second has been adherence by most of Venezuela’s traditional parties (now currently in opposition) to a plan of governing.  This 164 page plan, presented on the 23rd of January, was developed by over 400 of the nation’s experts in areas as wide ranging as security, economic growth, agriculture and military affairs; and it was discussed and agreed to from the candidates to municipal government all the way to the presidential candidates. 

The final component, and the one which has received the greatest attention, is the commitment to select the candidates to the various offices through a process of primaries. Currently, MUD has 1177 candidates across the country who will compete against each other in the February 12, 2012 primaries.  This, naturally, includes the primary election for the person who will face the sitting president in October.