After the counting of more than 96% of all votes, the outcome of the presidential elections in Venezuela is beyond any doubt: Huge Chavez clearly defeated Henrique Capriles, the candidate of the right-wing opposition alliance MUD. Orlando Chirino – who claimed to stand for an independent workers policy – came out as the candidate with the smallest share of votes
Here are the exact numbers of the election on 7th October 2012 which was marked by a record turnout of 80,45%: (1)
Candidate Votes Percent
Hugo Chávez 7.963.061 55,00%
Henrique Capriles 6.426.286 44,39%
Reina Sequera 68.210 0,47%
Luis Reyes 7.946 0,05%
María Bolívar 7.269 0,05%
Orlando Chirino 3.996 0,02%
The RCIT argued in a statement on the presidential elections in Venezuela, that the “workers are left without a real choice on the ballot paper. None of the “left-wing” candidates - Hugo Chavez and Orlando Chirino – deserve support from workers. Instead, building of a new Workers Party, based on a revolutionary program, is necessary to fight for the victory of the socialist revolution.” (2)
Working class illusions in Chavez regime
We explained that the Chavez regime is “socialist” only in words, but capitalist in practice. While is has the support of the majority of the working class and the oppressed, it is dominated by the “Bolivarian bourgeoisie”, i.e. a layer of state-capitalist managers and millionaires.
We therefore rejected those who paint the regime in socialist colors as many Stalinists and the fake-Trotskyists (like Alan Woods IMT) regularly do. Socialists cannot vote for a bourgeois candidate, i.e. a candidate who is the representative of a faction of the capitalist class but not of the workers movement.
While Chavez received a smaller share of the votes than at the last elections in 2006 (he got 62.87% of the votes at that time), the outcome of the elections shows that there are still substantial illusions in his government amongst the workers and the oppressed. At least he is clearly seen as a lesser evil than the candidate of the right-wing pro-US representative of the oligarchy, Henrique Capriles. Fears of a victory of Capriles certainly helped Chavez to rally his supporters.
These remaining illusions show why it is urgent for socialists in Venezuela to seek joint actions and employ the united front tactic with workers and poor who hope social reforms and expropriations of the rich by the Chavez government.
The reasons for the disastrous result for Orlando Chirino
Another important lesson of the elections’ outcome is the huge defeat for the candidate of the centrist PSOL, Orlando Chirino. Chirino, a long-time member of the centrist Morenoist UIT, was a former Chavez supporter and an important trade union leader. He broke with Chavez and for some time argued for a new workers party. This was an important step with a huge potential for building an independent working class party in Venezuela.
But lacking a clear revolutionary strategy, Chirino and his UIT conducted in the last years various adventurist maneuvers with petty-bourgeois and right-wing forces. As we showed in our statement with a number of examples, Chirino and the UIT-section have moved sharply to the right. They are focusing on building a small trade union FADESS together with leading forces of the pro-US, right-wing MUD.
During his election campaign he also presented himself as a “reasonable” socialist who respects the private property of means of production. In an interview with the conservative and pro-business daily paper “El Universal”, he promised that a government led by him would even review all enterprise expropriations which were undertaken “outside of the law” by the Chavez government. (3)
For all these reasons, the RCIT argues that Chirino is no candidate representing an independent working class policy. Through his systematic collaboration with open counter-revolutionary, pro-US forces, he represents rather a policy of subordination of the working class to the most reactionary sector of the capitalist class. Therefore the RCIT rejected the position of those centrists like the Morenoite UIT, LIT, PST-FT, LFI, COREP and the British AWL, who supported Chirino as an “independent workers candidate” at the elections.
Chirino’s miserable result of 3.872 votes or 0,03% shows, that hardly any worker in Venezuela considers him as “independent workers candidate”. This of course cannot be explained by a lack of prominence. Chirino was for years one of the most prominent trade union leaders in the country. The truth is that Chirino was completely ignored by the workers because he discredited himself (and his party) through years of systematic collaboration with the pro-US, right-wing opposition. This is a shame since his break with Chavez offered an excellent opportunity to build a working class alternative to the Bolivarian-bourgeois Chavez government. However, the failure to overcome the boundaries of the UIT centrism led him into a political disaster. The complete failure at this elections shows that the workers in Venezuela do not forgive Chirino his tailism towards the right-wing counter-revolution.
A new start, a new Workers Party based on a revolutionary program is more urgent than ever!
(1) Divulgación Presidencial 2012, http://www.cne.gob.ve/resultado_presidencial_2012/r/1/reg_000000.html
(2) Presidential elections in Venezuela: There is no alternative for the workers on the ballot paper! Neither Hugo Chavez nor Orlando Chirino should be supported by the workers! For a new workers party on a revolutionary program! Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 3.10.2012, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/elections-in-venezuela
(3) Entrevista Orlando Chirinos, Candidato Presidencial Del Partido Socialismo Y Libertad: "El país ha sido gobernado por el imperialismo y los militares". "El país tiene la necesidad de construir una alternativa que garantice libertad y democracia en el marco del socialismo"; Gustavo Méndez, El Universal, 27.9.2012, http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/120927/el-pais-ha-sido-gobernado-por-el-imperialismo-y-los-militares