Venezuela, Turkey: No one can subvert popular democracy

Published 08.08.2017 22:44
Updated 09.08.2017 01:53

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, against whom a failed coup attempt was recently staged, came to Turkey last October to attend the World Energy Summit in Istanbul. He started his speech with the following remark: "We saw how people embraced democracy in Turkey on July 15. Venezuela has experienced and is experiencing such attacks, because there are insatiable imperialist vampires that we have to fight against." Less than one year later, the powers that Maduro defined as "insatiable vampires" wanted to stage a coup in Venezuela, like they did in Turkey.

Maduro, whom former President Hugo Chávez appointed as a successor in his lifetime, received 50.7 percent of the vote in the 2013 elections, while his "liberal" rival Henrique Capriles received 49.7 percent of the vote. The razor-thin victory encouraged those who had plans on Venezuela. However, Capriles was the candidate of an alliance that did not represent a political will that would improve the country and use its resources for the benefit of people. At this very point, I would like to ask whether this kind of politics - that does not represent the interests and will of the people - cannot develop representative democracy and basic democratic institutions. Of course not. This is the main mistake made by those who want to conduct a coup in countries like Venezuela or those who nominate bubble types like Capriles in the name of "democracy." These initiatives will never succeed, as proved by Turkey's instance.

It should not be the fate of a country that has the world's largest oil reserves, natural gas reserves, and nonmeasurable mining reserves. But the answer is hidden in the plunder that was maintained with colonial policies during the 19th and 20th centuries and in the political institutions financed by this plunder.

Apart from the politics built by the colonialists, people politics also developed in Latin America. Peruvian politician Haya de la Torre formulated the most apparent frame for this politics. Torre's thesis is that the alliance of struggle between workers, peasants, and middle classes should be developed against the collaborative oligarchy that rules the state. Here, the broadest compromise and struggle against the economic policies that serve a small minority is the basic perspective. This perspective, however, is not based on a combined, continental and international line suggested by Simon Bolivar. However, Chavez had this opportunity.

Chavez had enough time to raise Venezuela and to not give any financial ammunition to those who made the attacks. However, he could not use it, and as a result he failed. Chavez found the problem correctly, but the solution was wrong.

In fact, we have to question why Venezuela's neo-Bolivarianism, which was started by Chavez in Venezuela and was hoped to be continued by Maduro, was not completely successful and could not receive wider public support.

The anti-imperialism, which began with Simon Bolivar in the 19th century and continued with leftist politics, could not build a new and generally accepted politics in Latin America. This was mainly because of the dogmatism of leftist politics that could not go beyond itself and much how it played out in Turkey. Chavez, for instance, could not build a Bolivarian - but open - regional economy by effectively using oil revenues of more than $30 billion. Chavez considered the economy as the sum of closed, statist and autarchic nationalist structures, as the Soviets once described, and carried out all the expropriations with this mentality. No alliance was established with the broadest sections, so democracy and democratic institutions were not formed.

Chavez could not build economic institutions that competed and joined global competition in terms of productivity and scale. Here, Turkey's difference is starting to appear.

From 1999, when Chavez came to power, to 2011, he placed the emphasis on policies that would improve income distribution in Venezuela and considered it a success on its own. According to the Gini coefficient, Venezuela was the fairest country in terms of income distribution across Latin America in 2011. Chavez made it possible for the poor to get a share from the wealth pie by cutting off the rents for the well-heeled.

But the main problem was that the pie was not growing. The country could not invest its oil revenues in other areas and could not even use this revenue for the improvement of the existing oil refineries. Chavez could not provide the necessary confidence for national and global capital because he could not actualize the alliance I mentioned above. However, it was not enough to correct the income distribution alone, and the pie had to grow as well. It was imperative to use the power of capital and to give the necessary confidence to the capital in order to ensure the growth of the pie. So, as I emphasized above, it was necessary to develop a broad democratic alliance against an unjust but dominant minority.

On the other hand, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who came to power in Turkey in the same years, treated this invaluable time very well. The secret is that both income distribution improved and the pie grew, actualizing the broadest alliance. By doing so, Erdoğan showed the whole world that the financial situation of the poor and middle classes improved with an outward-oriented and market-friendly economy. This was a large democratic formula of power created by the broadest alliance. This is an unshakable democratic power. The pie that increases welfare in Turkey will continue to grow for everyone and the distribution of income will continue to improve further from now on. Apart from this, Turkey will continue to be a country into which the safest and most profitable investments in the region flow.

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