By TAMARA PEARSON
Merida, April 2nd 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The latest GISXXI poll shows that most Venezuelans want to “continue Hugo Chavez’s project”, and that 55.3% of Venezuelans will likely vote for Nicolas Maduro in the upcoming elections.
The poll, by the Venezuelan public company, was conducted between 18 and 23 March, and surveyed 1500 people on the public’s response to Chavez’s death, and their attitudes towards the candidates for the presidential elections to be held on 14 April.
Support for Maduro and Capriles
If the elections were held during the dates the survey was conducted, Nicolas Maduro would receive 55.3% of the vote, and Henrique Capriles 44.7% of the vote. However, 66% of poll respondents believe that Maduro will win the elections, compared to 17% who believe Capriles will.
52% of respondents felt Henrique Capriles’s behaviour following the news of Chavez’s passing was very bad or bad, 30% thought it was very good or good, and 13% thought it was regular. In terms of Nicolas Maduro’s behaviour after the news, 60% thought it was very good or good, 25% thought it was very bad or bad, and 12% thought it was regular.
When asked to indicate whether Capriles or Maduro would respond better to certain issues, the spread was roughly 25% believing Capriles would handle them better, and 55% believing Maduro would. Maduro got the highest results for the issue of housing (62%), then roads and transport (58.6%), while Capriles’ highest result was 26.6% believing he would handle cost of living/inflation, and the issue of food scarcity better.
In terms of Maduro’s and Capriles’ personal traits, respondents were asked to agree or disagree that each of them are nice, sincere, honest, represent change, can unify Venezuelans, are competent, have the necessary authority to govern, are capable of making difficult decisions, are brave, and are energetic.
Of those, Capriles’ least represented trait was sincerity (30% believing he is) followed by honesty (32%), and most represented one was energetic (49%). Maduro’s least represented trait was nice (49%), followed by sincere (53%), and most represented was also energetic (68%).
60% of respondents believe a victory by Maduro would be in the country’s interest, compared to 26% for Capriles. 74% of all respondents are following the information about the elections with a lot of interest, compared to 20% with little interest, and 6% with none.
78% also believe that the 14 April elections are more important than the presidential elections held on 7 October.
Response to Chavez’s death
When asked if they were surprised by President Chavez’s death, 56% of respondents said yes, and 42% said they did expect the news.
In terms of their immediate response to the news, 26% of respondents said they made a phone call, 25% said they cried, and 20% did “nothing in particular”. 12% told their friends or family the news, and 5% turned on the television or radio. Only 1% responded by buying things from the supermarket.
On hearing the news, 39% of respondents felt sadness or love, 16% felt worry or fear, 14% were surprised or confusion, 11% “nothing in particular”, and only 1% felt relief, tranquillity, or hope.
In response to the question “Is the opinion you have now of Chavez different to the one you held prior to his passing?”, 48% said their opinion was the same, 43% that it was higher, and 6% that it was lower.
Responding to certain phrases, 75% agreed that “Chavez will enter history as one of its greatest liberators”, 71% agreed that “now the most important thing is to continue President Chavez’s project”, 40% agreed that “without Chavez there’s noChavismo” and 20% agreed that “with the loss of President Chavez the end of the revolution has arrived”.
On whether Chavez’s passing was an important event for the country, on a scale of 1 to 10, 100% of respondents answered with a 10.
Analysis of the results
The director of GIS XXI, Jesse Chacon, analysed the results. He said, “There’s no scenario where the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles could win. In the best of cases he could get 46% of the vote, if he managed to disassociate Maduro from Chavez, demobilise Chavismo and increase opposition participation”.
“On the other hand, if Maduro manages to deepen his connection with Chavez, his politics, and the transition to socialism, he could reach 57% support and leave Capriles with 42%,” Chacon said. However, he added that it is “very difficult” to reverse tendencies in just two weeks.
Chacon also predicted slightly less participation in these elections compared to the October presidential elections, at 74-78% compared to 81% in October. He said it was likely there would be greater abstention by those supporting the opposition.
“It would be difficult for there to be a migration of votes by those who support Capriles towards Maduro, and vice versa. Abstention is more significant,” he said.
“Chavismo has focused its strategy on showing that Maduro is the person who will continue the legacy of Chavez, and the opposition has tried to disconnect him [from Chavez] and bring about confrontations, in order to change the current electoral psychology which favours the candidate of the Bolivarian revolution,” Chacon said.
Further, he argued that the opposition “understands that Chavismo is the dominant political identity, and is hegemonic in Venezuela, that’s why they try to compete within the values of Chavismo in order to penetrate its social achievements, its heroes, and its symbols”.
PUBLISHED ON VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM APR 2ND 2013 AT 2.30PM
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are far from leftists. They probably coincide more with political libertarianism, agorism or Austrian economics than any other ideologies (although I’m sure they don’t wish to be forced into any label). Nevertheless, on many occasions their ideas and beliefs, as they communicate them through their comedy, coincide with many ideas usually associated with the left. Their show, although it may sound unlikely to many, has tremendous potential as an instrument of political agitation and even education. We will occasionaly share some episodes that exemplify this potential. It’s always good to sometimes think, analyze, or reflect on subjects while laughing out loud.
Obama and McCain team up? For an Ocean’s 11 type heist? Watch “About Last Night” free at the Official South Park Website
I’m not sure if Stone and Parker intended the episode “About last Night” to be a critique of US politics or they simply wanted to make a funny story, but maybe it unintentionally makes a good and humorous analogy of what US elections are all about. The electoral race is nothing but a big distraction, that ultimately perpetuates political power (or the Hope Diamond according to South Park) in the few hands of politicians. No matter who wins, they take all.
South Park analogy aside, even the Democratic Parties’ machinery is too intertwined with American capitalism to have the potential of being an agent of change. Our only hope is to construct power from below, empowering communities and workers through institutions such as Worker enterprises and Communal Cooperatives; while constructing simultaneously a radical political organization that can truly challenge the status quo.
For the first time in 32 years, Puerto Ricans will have a Working People’s Party in the ballot in the upcoming November elections.
Traditionally, island politics have been reduced to a continuous shifting of power from the Pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP) and the pro-status quo Popular Democratic Party (PPD), while the Puerto Rican Independence Party struggled each election to obtain at least 3% of the votes in order to be automatically registered for the next elections. The status orientated definition of parties usually meant that class issues were marginalized from most discussions.
The more conservative PNP took advantage of its turns at power to implement the typical neoliberal agenda of budget cuts, privatization, and repressive law making. When it was the ideologically absent-minded PPD’s turn, they did not overturn any of the measures and simply sailed through hoping for the best. The Puerto Rican Independence party, although self declared social democratic and member of the Socialist International, typically centered their campaigns on nationalist sentiments, inspiring little votes from the population.
The 2008 elections had a new contender, the Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party. Their campaign was ideologically moderate and environment oriented, and urged Puerto Ricans to move past debates on the political status in order to start getting things done. Surprisingly, the new party obtained even more votes than the Independence Party and almost enough to be automatically registered for the next election. The Independence Party went from obtaining more than 100,000 votes in the 2000 elections (more than 5%) to a little over 39,000 in 2008 (2%). Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico obtained more than 50,000 votes, representing almost 3%. This new factor urged many on the left who did not feel identified with the Independence Party to register two new parties: the Sovereignty Union Movement (MUS) and the Working People’s Party (PPT).
Even though the MUS has a rather progressive stance on most topics, their focus is on obtaining sovereignty for Puerto Rico, be it through independence or a free association pact with the US. Their objective was to look for alliances with sectors of the PPD who agreed minimally with the need for political sovereignty, although not with complete independence. The PPT on the other hand, although founded by activists publicly know to be in favor of independence, decided to not take a stance on status and center their campaign around working people’s issues. Their postures on gender, race, and environmental issues are the most progressive among all parties. Also, they emphasize the need for participatory democracy and socially based economic development through worker ownership and self-management much more than the MUS or the Independence Party.
As non-affiliated votes will now be divided among four minority parties, it is unlikely that any one of them will achieve seats in the upcoming government or the necessary votes to be automatically registered for the next elections. Nevertheless, the creation of a Working People’s Party is a historical and important step forward to any radical change in Puerto Rico.
They have already demonstrated the tactical advantage of their inscription by playing and important role in the No-No campaign during the recent referendum. Also, it is likely that they will initiate a new type of politics in the island, linking electoral participation with grassroots militancy in the streets. A good example being that two actual PPT candidates for the upcoming elections were arrested for displaying protest banners during a senatorial session. The action was also in protest of the new penal code approved by the PNP administration, which has been considered an almost fascist measure as it criminalizes most kinds of civil protest.
Hopefully, the PPT will be successful in radically utilizing the electoral process to agitating, educating, and organizing workers along with all other marginalized and oppressed sectors of Puerto Rican society.
(Sections IV – VI of The Political Perspectives of the Democratic Socialists of America )
Section 4: A Strategy for the Next Left
Socialists have historically supported public ownership and control of the major economic institutions of society — the large corporations — in order to eliminate the injustice and inequality of a class-based society, and have depended on the the organization of a working class party to gain state power to achieve such ends. In the United States, socialists joined with others on the Left to build a broad-based, anti-corporate coalition, with the unions at the center, to address the needs of the majority by opposing the excesses of private enterprise. Many socialists have seen the Democratic Party, since at least the New Deal, as the key political arena in which to consolidate this coalition, because the Democratic Party held the allegiance of our natural allies. Through control of the government by the Democratic Party coalition, led by anti-corporate forces, a progressive program regulating the corporations, redistributing income, fostering economic growth and expanding social programs could be realized.
With the end of the post-World War II economic boom and the rise of global economic competitors in East Asia and Europe in the 1970s came the demise of the brief majoritarian moment of this progressive coalition that promised–but did not deliver–economic and social justice for all. A vicious corporate assault on the trade union movement and a right-wing racist,populist appeal to downwardly mobile, disgruntled white blue-collar workers contributed to the disintegration of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, the mildly redistributive welfare state liberalism of the 1960s, which accepted the corporate dominance of economic decision-making, can no longer be the programmatic basis for a majoritarian progressive politics. New Deal and Great Society liberalism depended upon redistribution at the margins of an ever-expanding economic pie. But today corporations no longer aspire to expand production and consumption by raising global living standards; rather, global capital engages in a race to increase profits by “downsizing” and lowering wages.
With the collapse of the political economy of corporate liberalism came the atrophy of the very institutions upon which the progressive politics of the New Deal and Great Society had been constructed. No longer do the social bases for a majoritarian democratic politics — strong trade unions, social movements and urban, Democratic political machines — simply await mobilization by a proper electoral appeal. Rather, a next left must be built from the grassroots up.
Given the globalization of economic power, such grassroots movements will increasingly focus upon building a countervailing power to that of the transnational corporations. A number of positive signs of this democratic and grassroots realignment have emerged. New labor leadership has pledged to organize a workforce increasingly constituted by women, people of color, and immigrant workers. Inner-city grassroots community organizations are placing reinvestment, job creation, and economic democracy at the heart of their organizing. The women’s movement increasingly argues that only by restructuring work and child care can true gender equality be realized. And the fight for national health care — a modest reform long provided by all other industrial democracies — united a broad coalition of activists and constituencies.
But such movements cannot be solely national in scope. Rather, today’s social movements must be as global as the corporate power they confront; they must cooperate across national boundaries and promote interstate democratic regulation of transnational capital.
If socialism cannot be achieved primarily from above, through a democratic government that owns,control and regulates the major corporations, then it must emerge from below, through a democratic transformation of the institutions of civil society, particularly those in the economic sphere — in other words, a program for economic democracy.
As inequalities of wealth and income increase and the wages and living standards of most are either stagnant or falling, social needs expand. Only a revitalized public sector can universally and democratically meet those needs.
Economic Democracy . Economic democracy can empower wage and income earners through building cooperative and public institutions that own and control local economic resources. Economic democracy means, in the most general terms, the direct ownership and/or control of much of the economic resources of society by the great majority of wage and income earners. Such a transformation of worklife directly embodies and presages the practices and principles of a socialist society.
Alternative economic institutions, such as cooperatives and consumer, community, and worker-owned facilities are central to economic democracy. Equally important is the assertion of democratic control over private resources such as insurance and credit, making them available for socially responsible investment as well as over land, raw materials, and manufacturing infrastructure. Such democratic control must also encompass existing financial institutions, whose funds can be used to invest in places abandoned or bypassed by transnational capital, such as urban and rural areas, and in sectors of the population that have been historically denied control and ownership of significant economic resources. Such a program will recognize the economic value of childrearing and home care by family members as unpaid labor, and account for this work in all considerations of benefits.
Key to economic democracy is a democratic labor movement that plays a central role in the struggle for a democratic workplace, whether worker or privately owned. In workplaces that the employees do not own – traditional corporations, family businesses, government, and private nonprofits – only independent, democratically run unions can protect workers.
The importance of economic democracy extends beyond the ownership and control of economic resources. It is the only way to fulfill the democratic aspirations of the vast majority of Americans. The democratic ideal today has been drastically narrowed in scope and substance to reduce its threat to established power and privilege. The current assault on the welfare state led by corporate and conservative elites is also an attack on political democracy. Democratic socialists must reinvest democracy with its political and economic content to give full voice to popular democratic aspirations.
Finally, economic democracy is also the only way to mediate and overcome divisions based upon race, gender, religion, and ethnicity that undercut universal social justice.
Global Justice. A program of global justice can unite opponents of transnational corporations across national boundaries around a common program to transform existing international institutions and invent new global organizations designed to ensure that wages, working conditions, environmental standards and social rights are “leveled up” worldwide. The basis of cooperation for fighting the transnationals must be forged across borders from its inception. Economic nationalism and other forms of chauvinism will doom any expanded anti-corporate agenda.
The international financial institutions serving the interests of transnational capital are important arenas of struggle for a global social and environmental agenda. Elements of this agenda include efforts to advance social charters in free trade agreements; to propose alternative investment strategies for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; to strengthen the enforcement of existing treaties on the environment, labor standards, social policies etc.; and to promote international standards that put social justice before corporate profit. Stronger international ties among trade unions and joint actions across borders in defense of wage standards, working conditions and social rights are critical.
Social Redistribution. Social redistribution–the shift of wealth and resources from the rich to the rest of society–will require:
massive redistribution of income from corporations and the wealthy to wage earners and the poor and the public sector, in order to provide the main source of new funds for social programs,income maintenance and infrastructure rehabilitation, and
a massive shift of public resources from the military (the main user of existing discretionary funds) to civilian uses.
Although such reforms will be very difficult to achieve on a national scale in the short term, their urgency increases as income inequality intensifies. Over time, income redistribution and social programs will be critical not only to the poor but to the great majority of working people. The defense and expansion of government programs that promote social justice, equal education for all children, universal health care, environmental protection and guaranteed minimum income and social well-being is critical for the next Left.
At the same time, the military Keynesianism that has dominated federal expenditures, constricting the capacity of governments at all levels to respond adequately to social needs, must end. Much of the current distortion in government spending and taxation has its roots in the massive military and national security build-up in the 1980s, combined with the massive tax cuts for the wealthy. The great run-up in national debt is due directly to military-led deficit financing. Reduced military expenditures and more equitable taxation represent the only sources of funds on the scale needed to provide the social programs required to ameliorate declining living standards.
Together, economic democracy, global justice, and social redistribution are the linchpins of abroad-based anti-corporate left, that is international in character and local in its reliance on popular control of economic resources and decision-making.
Section 5: The Role of Electoral Politics
Democratic socialists reject an either-or approach to electoral coalition building, focused solely on anew party or on realignment within the Democratic Party. The growth of PAC-driven,candidate-based, entrepreneurial politics in the last 25 years leaves little hope for an immediate,principled electoral response to the rightward, pro-corporate drift in American politics. The fundamental task of democratic socialists is to build anti-corporate social movements capable of winning reforms that empower people. Since such social movements seek to influence state policy,they will intervene in electoral politics, whether through Democratic primaries, non-partisan local elections, or third party efforts. Our electoral work aims at building majoritarian coalitions capable of not only electing public officials on the anti-corporate program of these movements, but also of holding officials accountable after they are elected.
The U.S. electoral system makes third parties difficult to build at both the national and state level.Winner take-all districts; the absence of proportional representation; open primaries; executive-run governments that make coalition governments impossible; state legislative control over ballot access and election laws all combine to impede third parties. Much of progressive, independent political action will continue to occur in Democratic Party primaries in support of candidates who represent a broad progressive coalition. In such instances, democratic socialists will support coalitional campaigns based on labor, women, people of color and other potentially anti-corporate elements.
Electoral tactics are only a means for democratic socialists; the building of a powerful anti-corporate coalition is the end. Where third party or non-partisan candidates mobilize such coalitions, democratic socialists will build such organizations and candidacies. However, to democratize U.S. electoral politics – whatever its party form -requires serious campaign finance reform both within and without the Democratic Party.
Section 6: The Role of Democratic Socialists
Any differences are due to changing conditions,and not changing principles. The continuities are unmistakable. The same spirit animates both documents.
In fact, the most important difference between the documents is neither strategy nor program,mission nor vision, but rather expectation. The founding document called for carrying out a strategy and program that were already the mainstays of mass liberalism, but moving this broad liberal coalition considerably to the left. DSA’s new document points in another direction, toward the founding of a new progressive movement…a next Left. That is because the political momentum of mass liberalism is depleted. If we once positioned ourselves as the left wing of the possible, there is now no “possible” to be the left wing of. Of course, considerable opposition has arisen in response to the program of the conservative and corporate elites. But, that opposition confronts a profound crisis of leadership, particularly at the national level.
Increasingly, many of our fellow citizens recognize that the American dream is becoming a chimera. We as democratic socialists believe that it can be made real. No laws of nature or “free markets” dictate that we must destroy our environment, worsen global inequality, squander funds on useless deadly weapons, and continue to relegate women and people of color to second-class citizenship. But if the American dream is indeed ever more elusive, we seek much more than to simply revive it as an aspiration. For in one respect the right-wing would-be prophets are correct: The success of global capitalism demands that traditional democratic standards of justice, equality,and decency be undermined. For the simple dream of a comfortable standard of living, of community, and of equity to be realized, radical political, economic, and social changes in the established order are required.
The belief is widespread that we stand at the beginning of a new political era — that the Left must create a new vision and a new mission rooted in a new sense of purpose. Democratic socialists have an historic opportunity and responsibility to play a central role in the founding of a next Left, and DSA is prepared to meet this challenge. We invite you to join us in this effort worthy of a lifetime of commitment.