Monday, December 3, 2007

Short-term Setbacks and Long-term Gains

By Joe Sims

I titled a recent blog on yesterday’s (Sunday) referendums in Russia and Venezuela “Possible Left Gains in Sunday Elections.” With the Communists of Russia scoring close to 12 percent and Chavez two ballot initiatives going down to a narrow defeat, potential gains seems to have turned into palpable setbacks. Perhaps, in the short term this true (though the Russian vote reflected a slight increase from four years ago). However, in Caracas, Chavez’s simple statement that he will respect the results of the elections, something he reiterated from the time of the presidential call back referendum a few years ago, will clearly be a huge long-term gain.

It is beyond dispute that the Marxist left is viewed at best with suspicion when it comes to the issue of democracy and elections as evidenced by much of the comment on Chavez’s bid to remove term limitations. International opposition framed the contest as a simple play for power, an electoral coup, etc on the part of Venezuela’s leader. Socialism, in this debate, is portrayed as the absolute power of the state. That Chavez and his party will now return to the drawing boards and rethink the means of transforming Venezuela in a socialist direction within the framework of the country’s current electoral process will not be lost on the millions looking for hopefully at this great experiment for lessons on how to achieve a peaceful transition to a new society. This clearly will be an ideological gain for left.

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