Thursday, January 30, 2014

I am a Social Democrat, you are not, he wishes, we should all be, you can dream on, no way they are

Many essential debates as to the future of the country should be held these days but as usual you can count on Venezuelan politicians to discuss on anything but... The latest one of such futile exercises are whether Leopoldo Lopez is a Social Democrat, European style I suppose.

I am not going to enter into the meat of the matter because frankly, I do not care enough when my business is about to go down because of the country's default about to happen. But then again, being in such a position allows me to state that if there were any truly social democrat party in Venezuela today things may just be a tad different. See, for me, who has declared Social Democrat tendencies, European style, German actually, being a true Social Democrat means that workers and employees stick together to make the country advance. This has NEVER happened in Venezuela nor it is happening today as people like Lopez, and in an even worse way Capriles (1), prefer to speak of anything but defend private enterprise the way they should if they were putting forwards the interests of the country before they political pipe dreams of attracting chavista voters.

In modern Social Democracies, like the German one, like the French Socialists are becoming, like the US Liberals are up to a point considering that many in Wall Street support them, there is a keen understanding that private enterprise should certainly be controlled but it should be allowed to work because they are the only ones capable of generating stable and productive jobs. The basic economic difference between SD/L and neoL of all stripes is that neoL are more than willing to let the rich get way richer before they start worrying about whether trickle down stuff works. SD/L harbor no such illusion and allow business to get rich only after workers are ensured to get a living wage and their safety at the work place is real. If you forgive me this very sweeping generalization.

But even if I were to limit myself to such generalities, I still could not find in Venezuela recent history a true social democrat government. AD was not at first and only joined in earnest the Socialist International when Carlos Andres Perez needed loud speakers for his international ambitions. Demo Christian COPEI actually may have been closer to be social democrat in the way that when it imitated AD to gain power it kept more respect for private property. Chavez was of course a joke when he tried to join Socialist International. Today Venezuela has AD, UNT, PODEMOS, AP, MAS, and now Voluntad Popular inside, or observing, or wanting to join, or future seekers, of the Socialist International membership, which is not useless to point out has done very, very little to preserve Democracy in Venezuela.

This psyche comes from the core root of our traditional populist traditions since the 60ies where AD populism was considered Social Democrat as more politically palatable than populist. Since then no political party has ever wanted to be linked to the democratic right, not even the center. The last political candidate with an option to win that was somewhat clearly positioned to the right of AD was Lorenzo Fernandez in 1973, a candidate which was, incidentally, the last businessman ever nominated for a major electoral position in Venezuela that I can think of.

The void in Venezuela is not on the left which is way overcrowded and today tightly controlled by the vengeful movement that chavismo is. As long as the desire for revenge in the bulk of chavismo electorate is not somewhat broken, this one is guaranteed 30% of registered voters, no matter what people like Leopoldo may try to pull off. The more so that he cultivated an image of tough on crime which unfortunately is not credibly associated with Social Democratic parties.....

The void in Venezuela, since at least 1963 when Uslar Pietri went down in flames, is for a true democratic right party. Heck, I would settle for a true centrist party for that matter! Some times I wonder if Maria Corina Machado will throw the gauntlet on that one, once and for all. But she is rather ineffective so far at creating a viable political organization with her "Vente Venezuela".  It is not that I am yearning for right wing party, but I truly believe that one of the main problems of forming a truly democratic landscape in Venezuela is the lack of options. With all wanting to be more populist than the other we get boredom and the temptation to elect creeps like Chavez. Not that having true political options is an insurance against election of the worst guy, but at least it helps some.

Besides press inches (2) I think that it has been a mistake for Lopez to announce suddenly out of the blue that he wanted to create a Social Democrat forum, or that he wanted to be seen as one. It will not give him anything unless his intentions are to poach on AD and the like. Because, let's not be afraid to write it, chavistas today have no idea what Social Democracy is, or democracy for that matter... As such, at least from my point of view, that Voluntad Popular want to be seen as Social Democrats is more an admission that they have gone as far as they can in gaining votes from chavismo and that they prefer to battle inside the opposition for future growth. Granted, 2014 is the only time they can risk for such a strategy but I think other options should have been explored first. But what do I know....

Meanwhile the silence of Lopez and Capriles and Aveledo in defending the business about to go bankrupt under the regime pressure is deafening (3). Even Mitterrand was able to make a U-turn in the middle 80ies when his initial socialism push failed. Never mind the Northern Social Democrats that do not consider it dirty to travel overseas to promote their national businesses. But in Venezuela it remains taboo to be seen with businessmen; it is even OK to let the regime qualify all of them as crooks and thieves.


1) Let's not forget Capriles infamous tweets defending corrupt PDVSA. I have strong, very strong doubts that under a Capriles administration the private sector would be allowed to flourish. It would be more like as it always was, companies that cozy well to Primero Justicia are the ones that get the credits, regardless of their prowess.

2) I did not put links on the press inches that Lopez got but from these articles next you can get, in Spanish, some of the info I dealt with above: here, here and here.

3) Besides Arria and Machado it is the rarest of occasion that a Venezuelan politician defends convincingly private property.


Disclaimer: this blogger is not affiliated with anything and has voted to the right or to the left according to the choices offered, but ALWAYS for the more democratic option seen and certainly never for anything with the slightest hue of olive fatigues.  His closest sympathy is with the US Liberal sense, pre-Reagan era. Since 1980 there has been no party here or abroad that has been able to satisfy to combine his love of complete human rights and his wishes for equal opportunity with his desire for balanced budgets. To which today he adds that there should be no presidential reelection EVER, in any case, anywhere. In other words, he is aware that for the remain of his days he is condemned to always vote for the lesser evil, probably holding his nose most of the time.


  1. Some points...
    I do not know if what you mention about workers and employers sticking together is so "social democrat". For me it is very much German and transcends political colours and flavours.
    I see that at the level of conflict resolution in France and Belgian (particularly in the French-speaking side) compared to the German (or Germanic) way.

    I agree with you we need a party on the right but then: we actually need parties that have a plan, a programme and any kind of ideology.
    What we have is unfettered populism, one worse than the other.
    Another problem is that in spite of their socio-socialist controlling state-appropriation schemes,they tend to be rather feudal entities.

    I repeat: Venezuela is a feudal state.

    Herrera Luque once said Venezuelans wanted to improve conditions...from themselves upwards, not from others to themselves. There might be a piece of truth in this.
    There is a lot of classicism I see in South America that I do not see neither in the USA nor in Western Europe.

    Look: in Carabobo we have two parties (actually more, but those with some presence)
    that are just local parties produced to present a local clan: the Salas-Römer-Feo party and the Scarano+Italian businessmen-amici party.
    We have a zillion parties that claim to be social democrats but who wouldn't have the cojones to debate in public and explain what's the reason why AD and UNT and and and exist...why not one party as in Germany or in France?
    We have a Primero Justicia where there is a group of people with highly conservative ideas when it comes to family planning and laicity (Pope Francis would be shocked) but all in all are, as you said, as populist as the rest.

    And yet: none of these parties want to do something regarding a key problem in Venezuela: land property.

    I am amazed few render this an important issue.
    Ye, Venezuela is a highly urbanized nation but 1) over half of the "urban" areas are secondary or tertiary cities or areas that merged with them and 2) the vast majority of people in those areas live in houses with no property right.

    Funnily, neither the "left" nor the "right" in Venezuela have the cojones to tackle this problem. It would mean a huge difference if people could use their property as colaterales and if the milicos could not go on using huge huge huge amounts of state property as their feudal realm.

    I think in theory we do have a Partido Republicano.
    Their site is no longer available. It got 0.55% of votes for the National Assembly in 2010.
    I remember when they did have a site. They had copied the format and pictures from a US site, with pictures of an obvious white Anglo Saxon American and an African American...really they were not serious.

    1. Feudopopulism? Socialfeudalism? Esprit de clocher?

    2. It's something like that. I have called it petro-feudalism but its source precedes the petrostate.
      It's an unfathomable verga what we have in Venezuela's society...and it's metastasizing rather fast.

  2. I am very much with you Daniel( voting for the lesser evil) but in the end I just cannot vote at all for any evil so I never vote.....culture trumps politics every time as Kepler pointed out in his own words.We cannot copy the Germans, the Finnish or the Koreans....we have to become a good copy of ourselves.Populism rules everywhere where there is democracy to a greater or lesser extent."Looking out for # 1" , so to speak and living on promises, oh the empty promises, without too much concern for reality and its consequences.....evolution and change take time...we have to work on ourselves and communicate with each other in an honest and respectful way which of course you are trying to do. Those who do not, are the one who truly never

    " vote"

    The problem with home ownership in Venezuela is indeed a crime beyond crimes.People work to buy their own small houses and never really own them... we are struggling with this problem on several fronts and even Chavista family member cannot help us. The problem in Venezuela that I see at the very essence of all problems is the lack of understanding of the world: Justice.Even being a classicist is in its heart of hearts, only a lack of the sense of even the most basic underpinnings of justice....and its first cousins: sycophancy, arrogance of all kinds, elitism, social climbing etc etc. A pox on all of these ills.


  3. Bottom line:A nation can take any sort of a system it wants, superimpose it over an existing culture, and that culture will revert back to the old system (or a form of it) unless the change in electoral system is accompanied by a shift in cultural norms as well.


  4. Falling back on my understanding of Sociology I, about the evolution of culture, it went something like "Values" to "Norms" to "Institutions", and something in Venezuela isn't working properly. For one thing, institutions are not respected.

    1. I just have to tell you, most people I know throw trash out the car window while driving... it drives me crazy!

  5. Anonymous5:57 PM

    Not to worry people! Hear the words of the great leader Maduro- “For those that underestimate me, I say I’m a socialist and I know what I’m doing,” Venezuela is saved!!!


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