‘Venezuela After the Referendum’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, December 3, 2007
Hugo Chavez’ narrow defeat in the referendum was the result of large-scale abstentions by his supporters. 44 percent of the electorate stayed at home. Why? First, because they did not either understand or accept that this was a necessary referendum. The measures related to the working week and some other proposed social reforms could be easily legislated by the existing parliament. The key issues were the removal of restrictions on the election of the head of government (as is the case in most of Europe) and moves towards ‘a socialist state.’ On the latter there was simply not enough debate and discussion on a grassroots level.
As Edgardo Lander, a friendly critic pointed out:
“Before voting in favour of a constitutional reform which will define the State, the economy, and the democracy as socialist, we citizens have the right to take participate in these definitions. What is understood by the term socialist state? What is understood by the term socialist economy? What is understood by the term socialist democracy? In what way are these different to the states, economies, and democracies that accompanied socialism of the 20th century? Here, we are not talking about entering into a debate on semantics, rather on basic decisions about the future of the country.” read more