Chavistas win big in Venezuelan municipal vote

Crowds of government supporters celebrated in Plaza Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday night, Dec. 8, as the results of municipal elections were announced.

The elections were a triumph for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the party of President Nicolás Maduro, successor of Hugo Chávez. The PSUV won more than 49 percent of the vote, while the bourgeois opposition MUD (Democratic Unity Roundtable) got less than 43 percent. In fact, when the electoral victories of organizations aligned with the PSUV in the Patriotic Pole are added to that of the governing party, the progressives won 54 percent compared to 45 percent of votes for the reactionaries. This was a much bigger victory than that won by Maduro in the presidential election last April.

PSUV official Jorge Rodríguez, the re-elected mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas, received nearly 55 percent of the vote. He spoke to the cheering throngs gathered in Plaza Bolívar, followed by President Maduro, who reminded everyone that in the past year and two months the opposition has had four consecutive electoral defeats.  (Alba TV, Dec. 8)

The electoral gains by the PSUV also indicate that Maduro will be able to take steps forward to consolidate his leadership. Although the opposition controls 90 percent of the media, it was not able to turn the elections into a referendum or “plebiscite” that they and their imperialist supporters in the U.S. and Europe wished to use to undermine or overthrow PSUV authority. Rightwing hopes were dashed by the people’s clear support of the PSUV candidates. In fact, it could be said that the result was a “referendum” approving the PSUV government.

After first pumping up the importance of the “plebiscite,” most of the imperialist media reversed themselves and played down the elections’ significance, saying they reflected a division in Venezuelan society. Had the MUD won the elections, these same media would have defined it as a decisive defeat for the PSUV. The truth is that there have been 19 elections in Venezuela since 1998 and the pro-Chávez forces have won 18 of them.

President Maduro’s recent campaign against price gouging by retail merchants has further helped the PSUV to win the confidence of the masses in Venezuela. Retailers have been forced to lower the prices of appliances, televisions, car parts, toys and other goods. Maduro has charged the opposition with waging an “economic war” against his government.

After a day with a turnout higher than earlier expected for these local elections, some 58 percent, Plaza Bolívar rang with applause, singing and dancing. The elections reflect a mood of reaffirmed support for the course set by late President Hugo Chávez. Though the U.S.-backed, pro-imperialist capitalists are still a powerful and dangerous force in Venezuela, the elections are a setback for this reactionary opposition.