Venezuela’s National Assembly looks very different today. The majority that backs President Hugo Chavez- elected in 2005 when the right did not present candidates – has been reduced from 147 to 99 seats.
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) still has a majority of representatives, but not the two-thirds that would enable it to change the Constitution.
More significantly, and despite the triumphal speeches from Aristobulo Isturiz who headed the PSUV’s campaign, the right claims it won a majority of the votes nationally—52 percent of the total. However, this is disputed.
Since Chavez’s election to the presidency in 1998, in elections and referendums, he had been assured of around 58 to 60 percent of the vote.
The elections for governors and mayors in 2008 gave a clear sign of things to come. Four states went to the right and significantly, they were the states bordering on Colombia, and the powerful oil and coal-producing state of Zulia.
Since then rising inflation and growing levels of crime have created a sense of instability and uncertainty that the right wing media and their foreign allies have exploited to the full.
But that does not mean that the concerns were not real. And the corruption, which has penetrated every level of the Venezuelan state, was not an invention of the imperialist propagandists.
A significant section of people have shifted their support to a right wing with nothing to offer, and some of whose candidates had been directly involved in the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 and the bosses’ strike that followed it.
The Bolivarian process of change was rescued then by the mass mobilisation of a determined majority of the working class and the poor.
In 2010, after five years of a parliament controlled by the supporters of Chavez, the old ruling class still retains its economic power, its media, and its grip on much of education.
Now that ruling class will be able to add a political influence they had lost. And they will use any means at their disposal to undermine the Venezuelan process.
They were duly elected—it is true—but it would be a disaster to concede any ground now.
This is exactly the moment to attack corruption in the state and the economy, whatever colour T-shirt those responsible are wearing.
The setback for Chavismo arose out of disenchantment, and it will deepen unless the mass organisations are now given the opportunity to lead the revolution once again.
It would be a serious error, in my view, to concentrate now on a long campaign to re-elect Chavez in 2012. Instead it is a time to return to the grass roots of revolution and build again from there.
For Mike Gonzalez's analysis in the run-up to the vote go to Problems Grow for Venezuela's Revolution