Grassroots participation strengthens participatory and protagonic democracy in Venezuela. By Arturo Rosales

Electoral process #26 – since 1999 – will take place on November 21 in Venezuela to elect 23 state governors, 335 mayors plus state legislators, and municipal councils in what is being termed a “mega-election”.The stage is now set with a newly-elected National Electoral Council chosen by 2/3+ of the deputies of the National Assembly, in line with constitutional edicts. A large part of the Venezuelan opposition is now in negotiations with the government and prepared to participate in the electoral process – in contrast to the radical right-wing parties that are still taking orders from Washington and prefer a coup or a military invasion to come to power.
As far as one can tell, opposition candidates will be postulated by central party committees or may even be able to postulate themselves since, at this point in time, the opposition is badly fragmented and characterized by infighting and has not presented any coherent policies – except for “oust Maduro” at least 64 national and regional parties are slated to participate in the elections representing various opposition groups.
On the other hand, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is in the process of organizing primary elections to choose its candidates from the “bottom-up” rather than by its central committee which will encourage participation and be a shining example to democratic processes throughout the world.
Details of how PSUV Candidates will be selectedThe PSUV is by far the largest political party in South America with 7.955 million members which account for 38% of registered voters of which there are currently 20.9 million. The PSUV reaches into every corner of Venezuela and is organized on a regional/local basis in what is called the Bolivar-Chavez Battle Units (Unidades de Batalla Bolívar-Chávez in Spanish) or UBCHs in short, which initially came into being as machinery to work to get the vote out at elections.
Nationwide, there are 14,221 UBCHs filtered down to the local level in towns, cities, villages, and in the countryside which is covered by 48,636 grassroots and community party heads, backed up by 285,874 individual “street leaders” – the majority of whom are female.
Many of the PSUV membership constitute the majority of the Bolivarian Militia with around 4.6 million people trained in arms and ready to defend the homeland. The militia is also involved in social and community action as part of being the societal protagonists on the road to building a socialist society.
At the beginning of June this year, the PSUV Central Committee called on all UBCHs in the country to organize themselves to be ready on June 27 to postulate their local candidates for the posts of the state governor, mayor, state legislators, and town councilors. At the same time, the rules for postulating candidates were laid out to make the process as transparent and equitable as possible.
Some of the main guidelines were:

  • All votes were to be secret and not by a show of hands as had been the case in the past
  • Each UBCH member could nominate one male and one female candidate for state governor and two candidates of each sex for mayor.
  • Counting the nominations was to be done in public creating two lists – one for male candidates and one for female candidates laid out in alphabetical order.
  • Results were to be produced in triplicate and one copy posted publicly in the area covered by the UBCH.
  • For a UBCH to participate in the postulation process, there had to be a quorum of at least 40 members with some exceptions allowed for smaller UBCHs.

The ResultsAfter all the results had been counted by the PSUV Elections Commission, it was revealed that a total of 183,600 candidates had been postulated from the 94% of UBCHs that participated, of which 85% had never held an elected post in local government or otherwise. 103,000 of the postulated candidates were female which proves once again that the main protagonism in the Bolivarian Revolution is being driven by women.
Due to the unexpectedly huge number of candidates that emerged from the UBCHs and to make the primaries more manageable, it was decided to limit the maximum number of candidates to 10 men and 10 women for each post. These lists have already been published on the website of the PSUV.Actual voting in the PSUV primaries will take place nationally on August 8 in approximately 5300 voting centers up and down the country and be controlled by the proven mechanisms of the National Electoral Council – not the Party itself.
However – and this is a big difference – it will not be just the PSUV militants that will be allowed to vote for the final candidates for the mega-elections on November 21 – but all 20.9 million registered voters – no matter what political party or political hue they ascribe to.
This decision expands democracy exponentially and takes the decision on who are the candidates in the real elections out of the hands of central committees negotiating in smoke-filled rooms to serve their own interests or those of local oligarchs or businessmen.
Readers should ask themselves if a democratic process could be fairer or more democratic than this system of candidate selection now being implemented by the PSUV? It does not matter how much money or influence a person may have as all voting is done in secret. To deal with bribes or vote-buying in the UBCHs, strict disciplinary conditions were announced by the PSUV Elections Commission. Punishments range from a minimum of being excluded as a candidate to actually being expelled from the party if irregularities of any kind are proven.
We shall wait for the next primaries on August 8, no doubt spokespersons from the Lima Group or the US State Department will make idiotic declarations saying that the elections will “not be recognized” as they are not democratic! Mark my words.Posted 2 days ago by Cuba-Network in Defense of Humanity

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