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Venezuela: Winds of change bring better times

By Veneconomy

Winds of change are beginning to be felt coming from Quinta Unidad where the opposition holds its encounters. After launching the Country Consensus Plan for a future government, its leaders have now agreed on a Governance Pact, which commits them to holding primary elections to choose a single candidate. The person who is elected will not only commit him or herself to forming a government of unity, without bureaucratic party quotas, but also to not running for immediate reelection in 2006.

The launching of this pact, also call the National Agreement for Social Justice and Democratic Peace, will be next Sunday, July 25, in Caracas and on Wednesday, July 28, in the rest of the country.

The document, which has already been approved and will not be altered, also stresses that the transition government will work particularly hard to meet three of the ten basic points in the Country Consensus Plan: job creation, creating conditions to reduce the lack of security, and uniting the country in order to achieve progress.

According to the text that has been approved, the transition government will create a Federal Government Council whose task will be to decentralize and transfer funds and responsibilities to the states, municipalities and parishes. There is also provision for a new amendment to the Constitution to include a two-round electoral system, the issue of the institutionality of the National Armed Force (they may only vote), reducing the excessive presidential power, and a return to the bicameral parliamentary system.

The most important aspect of the Governance and Country Consensus agreements is that neither are last-minute improvisations and both are the result of lengthy study and healthy democratic debate.

It is even contemplated that the National Agreement for Social Justice and Democratic Peace be approved by the people in a referendum that would be held on August 1 at each of the 8,400 polling stations.

All of this is a break with the past. The opposition, apart from a few unfortunate exceptions, has realized that unity is essential if they are to win the recall referendum against President Hugo Chávez on August 15. Not only that, they have also realized that without unity it will be impossible to form a transition government and another in 2007 that meet the aspirations for change that will lead to an improvement in the standard of living for the majority of Venezuelans.

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