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Tuesday, December 4, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Chavez: ‘Reform timing a mistake’

Mr Chavez, speaking to state TV, said it was possible that Venezuela was not yet mature enough for socialism.

[...]

“Perhaps I made a mistake in the timing of my proposals, that could be, that we are not politically mature enough,” he said.

“It’s a challenge for us, we’re going to convince those of our comrades who have doubts, those who have fears concerning socialism.”

Translation: I guess this wasn’t the right way to accrue more power to myself.

While there were elements of the reform package that were of a social reform nature, the main purpose of the process was to enhance Chávez’s personal power. The proof that is simple: Chávez could easily achieve the social reforms without asking for the enhancements to executive power. If he wants to reform the work day or provide pensions for workers in the informal sector, what’s stopping him?

I give Chávez credit for not cooking the election and for accepting defeat (I am surprised at both). However, it would be easier to accept that his motives were above board if he would work towards social reforms without connecting those reforms to his personal power. He needs to forward the policies and then hand over power when the term is over. Further, he needs to work to build institutions that can function apart from the power of his personality and then it will be easier to take all the reformist rhetoric seriously.

Ultimately, I find it very difficult to believe that this referendum will be the end of attempts to make himself President for life. Indeed, he keeps hinting at such:

Mr Chavez has stressed that the battle to build socialism will continue and his reform proposal is still “alive”.

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2 Responses to “Chávez Laments Loss”

  1. MSS Says:

    While I agree completely (as I have said at F&V) that the main thrust of the referendum was about consolidating a personalist dictatorship, I have to disagree that he could “easily” enact the social reforms without the political changes.

    Isn’t the point that there is not the institutional and popular basis for these changes, and so the only path to putting them in place is eliminating checks on the central government, and its head, the president?

    In other words, the analysis of Chavez about the “maturity” of the society for these kinds of transformations is essentially correct.

    Of course, the electorate demonstrated its “maturity” in quite another respect: it refused to abdicate its sovereign democratic rights-or what is left of them-to a personalist dictator. And that is something for all us democrats-socialist, capitalist, or otherwise-to celebrate.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I suppose it depends on which reforms we are talking about. I would think, for example, that had the offer for a 6 hour work day been a stand-alone ballot measure, that it would have passed-ditto pensions for informal workers. Indeed, one suspects (although granted, one cannot prove) that a number of measures would have passed if the referendum had been a la carte.

    Of course, it also depends on what “easily” means.

    And I concur on the celebration part.


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