domingo, 8 de julio de 2007

(Final thoughts) The beauty of a vote no longer secret

Now, let’s make some margin notes and move from the theory to the praxis. Means the last argument (read the two final paragraph of the previous entry) I put in order to criticize the recall figure cannot be used for easily make accusations against the opposition for “not letting Chavez work”.In this very specific case this argument does not just fit with Venezuela because the weakness of our democracy (or more likely our political system that doesn’t haves a lot of democracy anymore) goes beyond the existence of the recall figure itself and it combines with other constitutional specifications.
First, our constitutional ruler periods for president at least are, in my opinion, way too long. Those periods are not of four or five years, but even for six years and the immediate reelection it’s allowed so a president in Venezuela since the Constitution of 1999 can easily rule for twelve years even. And is not a secret that Chavez plans and has spoke about reform the Constitution in a way that it can allow the indefinite reelection.
In that way, even without a possible upcoming reform, our Constitution gives the perfect ground for a ruler can be way too used to power for being a truly democrat. So if our periods are of six years, in three years you can pretty much have a balance of what a leader has done right or wrong and you can even see some results so making a recall in those circumstances wouldn’t be as crazy as making it for a four or five years period; yet it is still an unnecessary spend of money and an incentive to make a political system less stable.
Second, if the reader remembers right, the recall against Chavez was finally made on August, 2004. And as far as I know, Venezuela has not had another president but Chavez since 1998. Make the count, from 1998 till 2004 its six years, not three and its now way more than enough time to know if a president has done his job right or not.
But yet the CNE (electoral institution) and the government, made all belief, even to the international observers such as the Carter Centre and the OEA (I think its OAS in English) that the half of Chavez period was actually some months before mid 2004 (when we were actually allowed to pick the signatures and the CNE to validate because the rules of the CNE, made at the moment stand that not only the recall had to be done at the middle of the period, but also the signatures had to be requested then and not before).
Means Chavez period didn’t really started in 1998… weird… perhaps my memory at my very young age is starting to fail…
Of course, there’s always a very legal excuses to make it all look right. Chavez was elected in 1998, he request a Constitutional Assembly to write a new constitution according to his wishes; which was approved in 1999. Then he called for elections again because some how the new constitution needed also a new president. Or it was just the same man with a different tie? Perhaps my memory is failing again.
So some how his presidency really really started… I lost count of when it started. Some even tried to argue, during the struggle for getting the recall against Chavez, that the period of Chavez had really started on 2002, after that supposedly “coup” that briefly put him out off power.
Anyway, legally, we could only request the recall at the middle of his presidency; means around 2003 and the CNE took all the time that consider necessary (why such a hurry?) to ask for the recall in August of 2004. Six years (not three), six years after Chavez first came to power.
Of course ever since then Chavez has won many elections and he has being applaud for many, is the victory that not other political leader can talk about it today. It’s a victory only based on gently twist to the democracy disturbing it in such a way that it can be anything now, except a democracy.
Elections do not necessarily means democracy – That’s what I constantly repeat to lot of people who try to establish Chavez as a truly democrat. Wondering around the blogosphere once I came across an article from an American who quoted the recalls “as democratic process of whom we the gringos should be jealous of”, I don’t remember his exact words but it was something like that and I laughed thinking “If he only knew”.
I want to make clear here that I do think that the democracies we better know of, means the traditionally bourgeoisie democracies are not perfect either although they are definitely a dozen times better than the political system I’m living under right now.
I’m convinced of the fact that in this world some deputy even choose at open elections where the principle of an universal, secret and direct vote is respected; cannot just locked inside a Parliament to discuss the issues of the people that without knowing was happening just move on with their lives and votes again after five years.
I’m convinced that we most look on alternative mechanism in order to increase and canalize the participation of the people in their political system and therefore, to improve such system, to make them truly more democrat.
But that participation must be real and we cannot be fool on the many costumes a dictatorship intention can wear under the mask of “participation” and “power to the people”. If you guys were looking like me, on ways on improving the participation, well its good that you know that perhaps the recall is not exactly the right way and it does exactly the opposite.
Elections do not necessarily mean democracy- I repeat. Not if you can’t vote trusting no one would know your vote and specially if after doing so, you are certainly sure that you have lost your job. Do not confuse a simply populist tool with a democratic way of life.
I know that anyone who stands that any principle can be moved is non political by definition because is not letting any negotiation spaces. But I haven’t find yet any reasons to give up to the principle of the secret vote and I’m still convinced and I think I have given enough good arguments to stand it that the principle of the secret vote should be respected. And I have given enough proof to scream that the secret vote has been violated over and over again in Venezuela.

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