Socialist Worker

Vote in Venezuela shows weakness of the right wing opposition to Maduro

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2565

President Nicolas Maduro project is in trouble

President Nicolas Maduro project is in trouble


Elections to Venezuela’s new constituent assembly last Sunday saw long voting queues in poorer, more pro-government neighbourhoods.

The opposition called for a boycott, so those elected are all broadly government supporters.

These include president Nicolas Maduro’s wife and senior figures from his party.

The vote took place amid ongoing anti-government violence.

Over 100 people have been killed by the opposition or the state, including ten on election day.

The boycott and its limited success show the right’s continuing unpopularity. Its leaders couldn’t risk standing and couldn’t dissuade millions from voting for Maduro’s candidates.

Venezuela is now seeing economic and social devastation. But this hasn’t overcome the legacy of resentment at the right wing elite that once ruled the country.

Polls suggest almost half of all Venezuelans support neither the government nor the opposition.

The disaffected are mostly the poor and working class people who once rallied behind Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Right wing governments in the region refused to recognise Sunday’s vote, and US vice president Mike Pence vowed to tighten economic sanctions.

This will hurt the poorest.

Legitimacy 

For Maduro, the election was successful enough to confer legitimacy on a new constitution.

He wants more powers to deal with the opposition. But such powers will also be used against those with legitimate grievances.

The “Chavismo” that brought relief to Venezuela’s poor and hope to the world was built on shaky foundations that have crumbled.

Chavez rightly diverted much of the windfall from an oil boom to the poor. But he didn’t challenge the rule of the market, so when oil prices collapsed they took Venezuela’s economy down too.

When the rich tried to topple him, working class mobilisation saved Chavez. Yet watching corrupt and elitist “socialist” governments cut deals with the rich demobilised some working class support.

The right poses a real threat to ordinary people in Venezuela.

But workers and the poor acting for themselves can create a movement that could pose a real alternative.


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