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Choosing freedom or having the freedom to choose

Do we live in a free and democratic society?

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

On 23 November 2008 elections were held in the new National Assembly in Venezuela, as well as in the regional cabins within each state and municipality. It was the first time voting took place using an electronic touch-screen voting machine.

The result? The Socialist United Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 263 of ll local councils and 17 out of 22 governors that were up for election, while the remaining seats went to the Opposition. All persons and organizations who in discord with the political ideology of the PSUV have been dubbed the “Opposition” by President Hugo Chavez Frias and his government.

Winning by an overwhelming majority in a nation-wide election might appear dubious to some; however according to high-up government authorities, this victory suggests a positive development after a long duration of hard work. As per the rest of us, the election outcome – managed by a voting machine – ran the risk of being manipulated.

In certain areas – for example the state of Miranda – it was not possible to rig votes in favor of the ruling party. The vast majority of people living in Miranda were increasingly dissatisfied with the government. The election process progressed normally across most states, in a more or less organized manner. And it was in precisely this state (Miranda) that the opportunity was ceased to prolong the opening hours of polling stations. Thus trickled into votes by people who had stood in long queues to cast their votes (for the Opposition).

The aforementioned detail received a shot across the bow, fired from the government who constantly informs us that we live in a free and democratic society. I am almost entirely in agreement with the fact that ours is a free and democratic society. At the same time, we must not ignore the fact that the President had clear intentions, and carried out various actions, to retain all power for himself.

Owing to the political conscience and consciousness of many citizens, something to have sprout from Venzuelans of all ages in recent years, this election has demonstrated a positive development – namely that a powerful ruling party has been denied governance in a vital state assembly. With that an important hurdle has been overcome.

For us living in Venezuela, regardless of our individual political stance or social status, our cardinal concern in this election has been to see some semblance of proof that would confirm to us that we live in a democratic society. However, given the facade created by the government there is reason to doubt the conditions under which our democracy is set. At present it is the ruling class that is enjoying the rights that a democracy brings.

As for the rest of us, the right to vote, freedom of speech, and the right to exchange opinions remain privileges that have yet to be fully realized.

Each and every remark and viewpoint of a citizen is to be assessed as positive or negative by the government, and the government has the final say. This is just one of the faults inherent in a form of government that is largely corrupt; consumed by shortcomings and driven by the interests of a single individual.

And that is why it is difficult to come out unscathed when one attempts to go against the current by offering a different point of view on issues that are of importance to him / her.

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