Voluntad Popular' Elections: Democracy or not?

There is a political party, a new political party, that everyone is talking about. Most of my politically – interested friends from my university have dropped their parties to join Voluntad Popular. They say this is the first truly democratic party of the country. Why? Because they recently celebrated internal elections to all charges of the party’ structure. Nothing new here, except for this party invited everybody – I mean every single Venezuelan able to vote even living outside the country – to participate on those elections. There are articles and tweets praising this nouveau move. And when I see my friends’ Facebook status, congratulating themselves for being part of Voluntad Popular, naming the word democracy too many times; I wonder if this is democracy at all. Or if this is just another populist move.
We have to start speaking about Voluntad Popular’ creator and main leader: Leopoldo López. He’s young and handsome and has both a great and a rather shameful record. Great: he was Chacao’ major (the smallest and richest municipality of Caracas) and proved to be a great manager. Not so great: Chacao is relatively easy to rule, he needed more harsh political experience but the people mistakenly believed that what it was good for Chacao, was just as good as everybody. Shameful: he left the political party on which his leadership was born: Primero Justicia after a well knowing fight. Then joined a second: Un Nuevo Tiempo and shortly after, he also abandoned that party.

Then he created Voluntad Popular but he was not honest at first: he claimed his organization was not a political party but a “social movement”; hence keeping an anti-political speech. Then Voluntad Popular officially turned into a political party. The fact that he changes his political affiliations just as he changes clothes, make me think that team work and Leopoldo are not matching words. Plus, make me suspects that he goes more for opportunities than values.

In the meantime of all this process he was inhabilitated to run for public office. The government presented corruption charges against him but no one believed them (at least I don’t) because the government disabled many other opposition candidates to run for any public charge as soon as they got popular enough to represent a threat to them. So it wasn’t about corruption, it was about the fact that Leopoldo could beat a Revolution’ candidate. Either way this political inhabilitation is still current. The country is waiting for a decision of the Inter- American Human Rights court in Costa Rica in September on his inhabilitation. But so far, he cannot run for presidency next year. Hence, he can’t be a candidate for opposition primaries.

Unable to run for primaries, what it was left for Leopoldo and his new movement? As a strategy he did something that soon proved very effective: Voluntad Popular would have internal elections and in those elections anyone could vote. Political participation in all its purity. But there are forms of participation that are just fake and this is just one of them.

As a Venezuelan citizen, to vote in Voluntad Popular’ election is just as logical as to vote for the authorities of the Country Club (a social club on which I’m not a member and that I have visited perhaps twice in my whole life). Voluntad Popular’ leaders will have no actions on their voters what’s so ever unless they actually belong to the party. Outside the party, any other voter was just a propaganda tool to engross numbers that really do not represent much. I don’t understand how putting our noses in the internal affairs of a group is equal to democracy.

What amazes me is that the people who’s strongly supporting Voluntad Popular’ moves, are the same who fiercely denounced the Law for the universities’ project. The project after many protests, did not pass. One of it’s main proposals was to allow almost anyone able to vote – despite of its affiliations to a certain university – to decide on the university authorities. The idea was crazy and wrong in so many levels. And I wonder, isn’t Voluntad Popular elections the same idea? The same argument that goes “voting more and having a wider electoral universe is equal to participate more, equal to have more democracy”? Isn’t that exactly the constant Revolutionary move to maintain its democratic facade that we have rejected over and over again?

It scares me to see how theories, arguments, justifications that I thought were Revolution’ only property; now are used by the opposition. Which makes me think that democracy has been lost forever, even in hands of those who I thought, were supposed to rescue it.