Category Archives: Democracy

Principles of constitution or laws aimed at democracy, rule of law, transparence, decentralization, deregulation, or other purpose considered useful for democracy

The Stolen Election in Venezuela April 14, 2013

Here I will gather some links and documents regarding the stolen election, for convenience.

This document has been created by the opposition, in English. Most information is only available in Spanish, there is lots and lots of it, but I’ll here try to collect the English material.
Electoral Abuses April 14, 2013

Here is a 4 minute video in English showing how the dictatorship has responded with tyranny after the people refused to accept their stealing of the election: Venezuela Needs Help

Here is a 10 minute video in Spanish only about the stealing of the election: Video Maduro ilegítimo

Klasskamp måste jämställas med rasism

Sedan Andra Världskriget vet alla att rasism är ett brott mot mänskligheter, och att det kan användas som psykologiskt vapen för att söndra och härska. Men av någon outgrundlig anledning har ännu inte klasskamp förts upp på samma lista som rasism. Det är dock en precis lika förhatlig företeelse. Faktiskt finns det mera anledning att sky klasskamp, därför att den utgör den större faran.

Judehatet i Nazityskland har traditionellt betraktats som ett fall av rasism, men vid närmre kontroll visar det sig att den bakomliggande orsaken är klasskamp. Det bara råkade vara så i Tyskland (och Europa) att judarna av religiösa skäl var pengalånare, eftersom det under medeltiden var förbjudet för kristna att ta ränta, och ingen vill ju låna ut pengar gratis. Judarna var därför nödvändiga för en fungerande ekonomi, men blev också hatade när folk hamnade i skuld till dem. Orsaken till judehatet var därför att de var kapitalister i ordets allra mest grundläggande mening: De som tillhandahöll kapital. När Marx talar om klasskamp mot kapitalisterna, och Hitler om rasism mot judarna, så blir alltså effekten precis densamma.

Problemet med att inte erkänna att klasskampen är det grundläggande brottet mot mänskligheten uppstår när man överför detta till andra kontinenter och kulturer, där klasskampen inte sammanfaller med rasism, och därför riskerar falla mellan stolarna. Min käpphäst är Latinamerika, där Castro och Kuba har sått klasskamp i årtionden. Syftet med retoriken är att söndra och härska, inget annat.

På Kuba, efter revolutionen, vände sig Castro och deras mordiska gäng mot de sanna revolutionärerna, mot frihetsälskarna. Ett långvarigt inbördeskrig började, och regimen avrättade efter skenrättegångar tusentals frihetskämpar, även sådana som de visste var helt oskyldiga till det de anklagades för. Det var en ren utrensning av fiender. Jag rekommenderar denna dokumentär om vad som hände (med engelsk text).

Därefter vände sig den Kubanska diktaturen mot andra länder, först och främst Venezuela på grund av dess oljetillgångar. Castro har försökt ta över Venezuela sedan tidigt 1960-tal, först med en väpnad invasion, sedan med gerillakrig, därefter med en revolution, så med ett par militärkupper, och sedan slutligen genom att utnyttja det demokratiska systemets svagheter och få deras Manchuriska kandidat – Hugo Chávez – vald till president. Varefter han omedelbart förstörde landets institutioner inifrån, släppte in Castro, och lät Kuba ta fullständig kontroll över alla delar av Venezuelas statsmakt.

Hur lyckades Kuba med detta? Genom att söndra och härska. Vapnet var klasskamp. De delar av folket som Marx kallade “trasproletariatet” hetsades mot den egentliga arbetarklassen, mot tjänstemännen, och mot överklassen i en klasskampsretorik fylld av hat och våld. Castro genom Chávez lyckades alltså få trasproletariatet att med vapen i hand ta all makt och inflytande från alla de landsmän som hade någon utbildning, och istället med hull och hår lämna över fosterlandet till ärkefienden Kuba.

Därmed hade Castro vunnit, men till vilket pris? Jo, till priset av att Caracas nu är världens mordhuvudstad. Hela 90% av dessa mord går ouppklarade. Och till priset av att pöbeln är så fylld av hat, att de inte längre uppvisar mänskliga reaktioner. När en riksdagsman från regimen slog och bröt näsan på en riksdagskvinna från oppositionen, inne i plenisalen, så skrev folk på nätet “rätt åt henne, hon förtjänade det”. När polisen sköt ihjäl en obeväpnad demonstrant som fredligt krävde att rösterna skulle räknas om, så tycker regimanhängare att han förtjänade att dö.

Denna så kallade klasskamp har gått så långt att det inte längre finns någon skillnad mellan den, och judehatet i Nazityskland. I bägge fallen har de oskyldiga offren för hatet fråntagits allt människovärde, och i bägge fallen är det en regim som med vett och vilja har provocerat fram dessa brott mot mänskligheten i politiskt syfte. I Tyskland var Hitler ansvarig, i Venezuela är Castro ansvarig.

Det är heller ingen principiell skillnad mot Stalins regim; folkmordet i Ukraina vintern 1933 var av precis samma skrot och korn: Kommunisterna tog böndernas mat och hindrade dem från att lämna sina gårdar, där de följaktligen svalt ihjäl utan att de ansvariga kände något dåligt samvete. Det är detta som är pudelns kärna: De som begår de brottsliga handlingarna är så hjärntvättade att de inte reagerar. De verkligt ansvariga är de som har utarbetat strategin, propagandan. Att sprida rasism är redan brottsligt. Det är hög tid att klasskamp jämställs med rasism.

Proof of Election Fraud in Venezuela

There have been warnings from the so-called alternative opposition in Venezuela, groups outside of the established politics, alleging that the voter rolls are inflated with zombie voters, or “votantes fantasmas” as they are called in Spanish. Millions of them. Now after the election it has been proven, as this video shows. I’ve tried it out myself before cne.gov.ve shut down the service yesterday. It’s true. The same physical person (name, birthdate, address) appears two times with different ID numbers, voting at the same polling place but at different tables. Maybe we should call it “shadow voters,” as in both the person and his or her shadow will cast a vote. Based on the prior estimates of the number of these shadow voters, this can have increased the vote for Chávez by about 2 million. Remove them and Capriles would have won handily.

Another – and unexpected – method of fraud has now also been denounced. It was unexpected because it is so brazen; it requires the cooperation of thousands of election technicians. Voting is electronic in Venezuela, so there has to be technicians to manage the voting computers. At the end of the election day, these computers are sending data to a central location for summing the results up. The fraud was executed, according to these technicians, by changing the figures in the computers before transmitting them, and – obviously – before printing the reports that are signed by the poll workers. It was possible by giving all the technicians the usernames and passwords of people with the highest access level, something that was provided by SEBIN (the political police) on the election day morning. The technicians were made to cooperate by bribing them, and if that didn’t work, by taking their families hostage, says the document, and backs up its credibility by providing URLs, user names, passwords, and access codes to the entire Venezuelan election system. (Several of the computers are apparently blocked from access from abroad, but were online yesterday for access from within Venezuela.)

A source on the ground has told me that at his voting table, there were 250 persons that he knows to be supporters of Capriles who voted, yet Capriles only got about 150 votes according to the computer. This observation is consistent with the method of election fraud that the CNE whistleblower technicians allege, and adds to their credibility.

The fact that there has been fraud is in plain view. All you have to do is to look at this map of the result (from El Nuevo Herald). It has the western state of Zulia in red, but that state is the stronghold of the anti-Chávez opposition. The fraud is so blatant that people understand it took place even though the opposition candidate himself says that “we have found no evidence of fraud.” He is obviously being disingenuous. Why? I don’t know, but I do know that it is typical of electoral dictatorships, where the opposition is in a dependent situation in relation to the regime. It’s a case of the Stockholm syndrome.

Map of election result
The official election result from CNE. Red states were won by Chávez, blue by Capriles. Note that Zulia in the far west is red!

Chávez stal valet

När den ordinarie tiden för röstning var ute, stod det klart för oppositionen att Capriles hade vunnit bekvämt, med ungefär 5%. Lite senare förklarade Chávez att han hade vunnit, och att hans anhängare borde ge sig ut för att fira (det var mot reglementet att han sa det). Och så kom det uppgifter om stridsvagnar på gatorna i Caracas och andra städer runt om i Venezuela. Sen kom chocken, valmyndigheten CNE förklarade att Chávez hade vunnit med 54% mot 45% för Capriles. Lite senare kom förloraren modstulet ut och – tvärt emot vad alla förväntat och vad han själv lovat – sa han inte att han skulle kämpa vidare.

Nu dagen efter kommer det fram vad som hände. Capriles fick ett erbjudande. Ge sig frivilligt eller möta beväpnad milis och militär med stridsvagnar. Den 7 oktober 2012 insåg venezolanerna att demokratin är död. Djungelns lag gäller. Det råder en kollektiv chock nu. Som om någon nära har dött. Aldrig tidigare har nämligen Chávez stulit ett val så uppenbart, så grovt, med så mycket hot om våld, så “in your face”. Vad som kommer att hända härnäst kan ingen veta.

Demokratin i Venezuela, 1958 - 2012

The Electoral Dictatorship of Venezuela is Failing

A recently published book is focusing on an important subject. In ”The Dictator’s Learning Curve – inside the global battle for democracy,” William Dobson writes about the Arab Spring, but also about Venezuela, Russia, Iran and others. We have got used to dictatorships being totalitarian, controlling the inhabitants through brutality. The standard image of a dictator is a military coupster with epaulets on his shoulders. But the last 20 years that type of dictator has been in the minority.

Most authoritarian countries today celebrate elections, and make an effort to appear democratic. This is in and of itself nothing new; ”Tiden” (a Swedish social-democratic political magazine) wrote about these electoral dictatorships already in the 1930’s. Back then they existed in Europe, including the Baltic states, and the model was Nazi Germany, a country that aspired to appear to follow the constitution.

A contemporary case that is given a lot of attention in the book is socialist Venezuela and the “Bolivarian revolution,” the term Hugo Chávez uses for the project to unite Latin America under socialism. Already 1999, the same year he took office as a democratically elected president, he convened a Constituting Constitutional Assembly. The assembly consisted of 125 “chaviztas” and 6 others, elected in a rapid election where the distribution of mandates was far from proportional. All the powers were gathered in this assembly, which was not sanctioned by the constitution, and the whole process was legitimized by referenda before and after.

But were those polls free and fair? The days after June 28, 2009, when Zelaya’s attempt to hold an illegal referendum about convening a constituting constitutional assembly in Honduras had been stopped, the Attorney General found electoral material where the result of the referendum already was tabulated: A huge victory for “yes”. The ballots and the tabulation sheets came from Venezuela. What is the term to use when the tools of democracy are used to overthrow the constitution? And with support from a foreign power? There is no doubt that the procedure in Venezuela in 1999 was unconstitutional. It was a coup d’état sanctioned by the Supreme Court.

Early in 2002 Chávez announced changes in the popular state-owned oil company PDVSA. It provoked a strike, which got popular support. On April 11 a million-strong demonstration marched to the presidential palace, where they were being shot at. Both sides accused the other. The end result was that Chávez was forced to resign, but General Baduel had him reinstated after 3 days.

The shooting of the unarmed demonstrators became a water divide. In 2003, democratic organizations gathered 3.2 million signatures demanding a referendum for recalling Chávez. After many obstructions the regime was finally forced to hold a recall referendum on August 15, 2004.

Based on opinion polls and exit polls it was universally expected that ”yes” would prevail, but the election authority unexpectedly announced that ”no” had won, and Chávez could remain in office. Seven peer-reviewed articles about the referendum have since been written in two scientific journals (International Statistical Review, and Statistical Science), and the conclusion is clear: Chávez’s presidency would have been revoked if it hadn’t been for fraud in the vote-counting from the electronic voting machines, which were used for the first time on that occasion.

One of the article authors, Guillermo Salas, describes how an electoral dictatorship has to succeed with four things in order to achieve democratic legitimacy:

  1. create an electoral system that allows for fraud,
  2. create faith in this system,
  3. create an expectation that the regimen candidate will win, and
  4. get a ”seal of quality” on the result.

According to Salas the strategy has been implemented in the following way:

  1. electronic voting has been introduced,
  2. the opposition assures that the process is transparent,
  3. opinion polls show that the regime will win, and
  4. either the opposition accepts defeat, or an international election observer approves the result.

A complementing strategy is to occasionally allow the opposition to win, but only in cases where it doesn’t matter, such as governors and parliaments without power.

On October 7 the next presidential election will be held. The opposition has united behind Henrique Capriles, a 40-year old bachelor and governor for the second most populous state. While Chávez is suffering from cancer and moves with difficulty, Capriles is radiating health and youth. As a way of compensating for the total domination of the media on the part of the regime, Capriles has travelled around the country holding election meetings, in spite of assassination attempts. Politically he is close to social democracy, just like Carlos Andrés Pérez, called CAP, the president that Chávez tried to overthrow in a military coup in February of 1992.

The election campaign of Chávez is predominantly negative. He calls Chávez an “adulating wretch,” and has threatened with civil war “if the opposition wins.” Venezuela’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria, said in an interview September 7 that Chávez’s words about “civil war” in effect was a veiled threat to carry out a massacre, since only one side in the conflict is armed. This is the first time in Latin America that the executive has threatened the citizens, he said, and compared it with Hitler’s threatening of the Jews, Milosevic’s of the Muslims, and Kaddafi’s of the opposition. (Arria was a witness against Milosevic in the war crime tribunal, and chairman of the UN Security Council when it condemned Libya for the bombing over Lockerbie; Chávez would refer to Kaddafi as his “brother.”)

Chávez accuses the opposition of being “ultra-right”. When Chávez calls the social democrat CAP “ultra-right” it says more about how far left he himself is ideologically. Although he, during the election campaign in 1998, replied “no” on the question whether he was a socialist, in 2007 he stated that he is a Trotskist, and Fidel Castro has said that Chávez politics “of course” is communist.

As it turns out, Fidel Castro of Cuba is namely behind Chávez’s power grab in Venezuela, according to a new book by General Carlos Peñaloza, former head of the army in Venezuela. Already in 1984 he identified Chávez as an infiltrator in the army, and in December of 1989 he had Chávez (who by then was serving in the presidential palace) arrested on suspicion of planning to murder the president. However, the president (CAP) didn’t believe the accusations, and allowed Chávez to continue to serve. The rest is history.

Peñaloza’s book is called “El Imperio de Fidel” and deals with Fidel up to 1967. The follow-up will deal with Chávez’s role as Fidel’s “successor”. One could also call Chávez Castro’s quisling, considering how the Cubans have plundered Venezuela since 1999: a large part of Cuba’s revenues come from Venezuela. Venezuela is also the bridgehead of influence in Latin America for the Cuban dictatorship. There is therefore very much at stake for the Castro brothers on October 7.

According to political consultant and analyst Eric Ekvall, who for 30 years has been based in Venezuela, Capriles now has an advantage of 15 points after correction for a systematic error in all opinion polls (due to fear of being registered as having anti-regime opinions). Fearing a huge electoral loss the regime has taken new illegal actions. The electronic voting machine is now equipped with a fingerprint scanner. The same system first checks the voter’s identity using the social security number; then decides whether the person should be allowed to vote; and finally records his or her vote. The regime is in total control. There is no possibility for the opposition to manually verify if it’s the right person who is voting, or if the same physical person is voting multiple times. The fingerprint is in effect not used, but the scanner has a psychological effect. According to a poll commissioned by the opposition, 63% of voters do not trust that the vote is secret.

Scientific research has shown that electoral dictatorships can survive only because the opposition has more to win from losing than from winning. The iron grip of the regime can only be broken if there is a strong third force. Nobody can know today how strong the popular resistance is in Venezuela. Unless the election is canceled, the regime will probably declare itself the winner, the people will take to the streets, and then we’ll find out how the militias and the military will react.

Smoking Gun for Election Fraud in Venezuela

A last-minute illegal rule change has removed the last shred of transparency from the October 7 presidential elections, effectively turning the country into an “electoral dictatorship.”

With opposition candidate Henrique Capriles appearing the likely winner in the October 7 presidential elections in Venezuela, and incumbent president Hugo Chávez repeatedly having asserted that he will never allow himself to be removed from power, the regime has now announced illegal last minute changes to the election procedures, which may allow for large-scale but un-detectable election fraud, according to Voto Limpio.

Election experts at Voto Limpio warn that these last-minute changes to the election rules may be designed to allow the regime to declare victory regardless of how people actually vote. Under the new rules, neither the printed voter roll, nor the indelible ink will be used to prevent multiple voting, or to verify that a voter is eligible to vote. Instead a “black box” machine will pronounce who gets to vote and who doesn’t. By violating all democratic norms, the rule change itself is thus the proverbial “smoking gun.”

Together with the irregularities in the un-audited voter rolls, widely suspected to contain millions of “zombie voters,” these changes will make it possible for government supporters to vote several times, and for opponents of the government to be denied the opportunity to vote even once. As Joseph Stalin said, “It’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.”

These procedural changes were published August 28, just six weeks prior to the election. The deadline for any changes according to the law is six months. Another illegal change, that time to the election law itself, was made 4 months before of the election: The article that prohibited any device from being attached to the voting machine was changed to allow finger-print scanners to be connected.

Independent tests have revealed that the finger-print scanner was incapable of performing its duty, to assure the principle one person – one vote, yet the regime insisted on using it. There has been suspicion that the purpose of the scanner really was to intimidate fearful voters, given that 8.5 million Venezuelans are directly dependent on government payouts, and given that the regime in the past has denied benefits to persons and family members just for having expressed support for the opposition.

However, with the latest rule change it has become clear that the introduction of the scanner has done away with the traditional methods to check identity and prevent double voting. The new rules say that as long as half the name is correct the person can vote, even if there is no match in fingerprint, or indeed no fingerprint at all. Furthermore, if the machine says that a voter already has voted, that voter will be denied the right to vote, even if there is no record of him/her voting in the voter roll, and even if there is no sign of ink on the finger. The determination of voter eligibility is thus a process into which the opposition or independent election observers have no effective insight or control.

These two patently illegal changes could be a result of Chávez’s poor polling results. Political consultant and analyst Eric Ekvall, who has managed campaigns in Venezuela for several decades, estimates that “Capriles is now leading Chávez by 15 points, taking into account the ‘fear factor’ bias in local polling,” which pollsters attribute to the fact that about one in ten Venezuelans lie to poll interviewers out of fear of being identified as an opponent of Chávez.

Venezuela has used electronic voting since 2004, and has, according to Guillermo Salas – a Venezeulan student of the subject – committed election fraud ever since. The typical procedure has been to hugely inflate the number of votes for the government, while somewhat decreasing it for the opposition. The result is that the number of voters in some areas has become larger than the population.

The latest changes allow for so much arbitrariness that they effectively render the elections meaningless, given that the regime now will have full and complete control over who “wins” the election. The fraud that the regime apparently is preparing is not detectable using traditional election supervision; it would take complete electronic surveillance of all communications to and from all locations involved in the voting and vote count, in order to detect it. Nobody has the access required to effectively supervise these elections.

The fact that Cuba is connected to Venezuela by an optical cable means that the fraud might even be executed in Havana, rather than within Venezuela. The only thing required for a “zombie vote” to be cast at a polling place, making it indistinguishable from a real vote, is a fake ID. All Venezuelan IDs are now issued on Cuba, and it has been reported in media that they are being issued for political purposes, to foreigners, and that multiple IDs have been given to the same person.

När är en statskupp försvarbar?

Det politiskt korrekta svaret är “Aldrig”. Den som befinner sig i en situation där han kan rädda liv genom att genomföra en statskupp kan dock inte låta sig nöja med ett sådant infantilt svar. Jag behöver bara nämna “Tyskland 1938” som argument. Hade Adolf Hitler avsatts i en statskupp innan Andra Världskriget kommit igång, och demokratin återinförts, så hade tiotals miljoner människoliv kunnat räddas. Är tiotals miljoner människoliv inte viktigare än en politisk princip?

Naturligtvis är det så, och därmed uppstår den moraliska frågan om var exakt gränsen går. När Honduras folkvalda parlament den 28 juni 2009 röstade för att avsätta den likaledes folkvalde presidenten, efter att militären arresterat denne på högsta domstolens order (och därefter på eget bevåg landsförvisat honom för att undvika att beväpnade infiltratörer utsända av Hugo Chávez i Venezuela, och Daniel Ortega i Nicaragua, skulle sätta sin plan i verket att befria honom med vapenmakt), ja då sa i stort sett hela världen att det var en statskupp, och att de inte skulle erkänna interimsregeringen under Roberto Micheletti. Efter att denne hållit de planerade valen (vilka den avsatte presidenten av underrättelsematerial att döma hade tänkt ställa in), och en ny president installerats, erkände omvärlden den nye presidenten. Ingen dödades vid själva avsättandet av presidenten, men några omkom i senare oroligheter, vilka finansierades och organiserades av Chávez.

Honduras förlorade sitt internationella erkännande under 7 månader på grund av att presidenten avsattes på ett sätt som omvärlden inte accepterade, men vilket landets egna institutioner ansåg korrekt. Trots den tillfälliga isoleringen anser många ledande personer i landet att det var den bästa möjliga utvägen ur en besvärlig situation, uppkommen då en främmande makt (Venezuela) försökte ta kontroll över landet via en korruption av den demokratiska processen.

Som kontrast kan vi ta upproren i Libyen och Syrien. I de fallen har tusentals människor satt livet till i kampen för regimskifte. Antag att en grupp personer haft i sin makt att avsätta regimen i en militärkupp, och därmed få ett abrupt slut på striderna genom att utlysa allmänna och demokratiska val. Skulle det då inte varit bättre? Låt oss vidare anta att dessa personer genomförde denna statskupp redan före omvärlden fått reda på att upproren börjat, för att rädda livet på tusentals människor. Detta är ett rimligt antagande, eftersom de som militärer i landet borde ha haft unik insikt om planerna för att kväsa uppror, och därför måste ha förstått vilket val de stod inför. Som exempel kan vi ta Venezuela den 11 april 2002: President Chávez beordrade då ut stridsvagnar för att kväsa en fredlig demonstration med omkring en miljon människor som marscherat en mil till presidentpalatset (utan tillstånd). Militären vägrade i det läget öppna eld på civilbefolkningen, och krävde istället presidentens avgång. Senare blev han återinsatt och satte då propagandan i arbete att beskriva hans eget fiasko som att han varit offer för en militärkupp.

Problemet som militären står inför är därför detta. De har två alternativ att välja mellan:

Antingen avsätter de presidenten, undviker ett blodbad, men blir efterlysta internationellt som kuppmakare, och landet förlorar tillfälligt sitt internationella erkännande med ekonomiska problem som följd.

Eller så låter de presidenten hållas, lyder order, skjuter på civilbefolkningen, blir visserligen avskydda internationellt men eftersom de förblir anonyma så får det inga juridiska konsekvenser. Demokratin går under, diktaturen frodas, oliktänkande kastas i fängelse som politiska fångar för årtionden, andra försvinner, mördas, och yttrandefriheten går i graven. När till slut folket reser sig som i Libyen och Syrien sker det till priset av inbördeskrig och svåra umbäranden.

Om detta är valet de står inför, så är det bättre att göra en statskupp. Ändå är sannolikheten överhängande att de inte kommer att göra det. Varför? Därför att det passiva alternativet belönar militären, medan det första alternativet straffar dem.

Hur kommer det sig då att militärkupper har så dåligt rykte? Jo, därför att de har använts som sätt att komma till makten på illegitim väg i syfte att utnyttja maktpositionen för egen vinnings skull. Man behöver bara läsa boken “Coup d’état – A Practical Handbook” från 1967 för att se hur en statskupp kan fungera som en affärsidé med goda avkastningsmöjligheter – om än även med vissa risker.

Mot denna bakgrund kan det vara förståeligt att militärkuppen har fått ett lätt dåligt rykte, för att uttrycka det milt. Detta utnyttjades cyniskt av en sådan som Hugo Chávez för att förtala den demokratiska regimen i Honduras. Speciellt cyniskt, nästan gränsande till psykopatiskt, är det givetvis då Chávez själv är en (misslyckad) militärkuppmakare.

Vilket förhållningssätt bör demokratier som Sverige ha till statskupper i allmänhet, och militärkupper i synnerhet? Givetvis måste det bero på åt vilket håll den demokratiska utvecklingen går. Om en statskupp genomförs för att stoppa en diktatur från att införas, och därmed rädda demokratin, så måste rimligtvis den diplomatiska reaktionen vara en annan, än om statskuppen leder till att en demokrati förvandlas till en diktatur. Alldeles i synnerhet om kuppen genomförs för att rädda människoliv.

Att kräva att folket i en diktatur, som Libyen, Syrien eller Venezuela, måste avsätta diktaturen själva, även om det leder till stora förluster av människoliv då regimen slår tillbaka mot fredliga demonstrationer med militära vapen, är inte rimligt. Det är ett orimligt krav. Det är orättfärdigt. Det är omoraliskt. En oblodig militärkupp är då ett moraliskt försvarbart alternativ.

Svårigheten för omvärlden ligger i att veta hur diktaturen fungerar internt. En modern diktatur, typ Venezuela, kan för många förefalla vara en demokrati, liksom Tredje Riket föreföll vara det på sin tid. En kupp för att återinföra demokrati kan därför förefalla vara det motsatta för vissa bedömare i omvärlden, påhejade av diktaturens propaganda i länder som Ryssland – själv en diktatur förklädd till demokrati. På grund av detta måste kuppmakarna vara beredda på att få otack från världen som enda lön. Otack, isolering, och internationella arresteringsorder.

Mot detta står den inre frid som det innebär att leva i visshet att man räddat hundratals om inte tusentals av människoliv, genom att undvika ett uppror och eventuellt inbördeskrig. Ett år eller två av internationell isolering medan val hålls, och de demokratiska institutionerna återuppbyggs, är också det mindre onda, jämfört med det som drabbat Libyen och Syrien.

Min slutsats blir därför att uppmuntra militären i länder som Venezuela att göra en militärkupp mot diktaturen, omedelbart överlämna makten till en civil övergångsregering vars uppgift det är att återetablera de demokratiska institutionerna (viktigast av vilka är en högsta domstol som inte styrs av maffian), och hålla demokratiska fria och öppna val. Men för all del, de kan vänta tills efter presidentvalet den 7 oktober i år. Om regimen mot alla odds plötsligt skulle få för sig att hålla ärliga och hederliga val (vilket oppositionskandidaten Henrique Capriles helt säkert skulle vinna så som opinionsläget är idag), och tillåta att denne tar makten i januari, ja då behövs naturligtvis ingen kupp. Men i annat fall, den 8 oktober är en lika bra dag att genomföra kuppen som någon annan…

Can electronic voting work?

Many attempts have been made to “fix the problems” with electronic voting, but rather than trying to go through issue after issue, I’ll try to address it from the other end: Is it logically possible to make it work? To answer that question one has to boil down the essential requirements first, and then see how they can be implemented.

The essential requirements are:

  1. There shall be one person – one vote (no unauthorized voting)
  2. The vote shall be secret (the fact that a person cast a vote shall be public for the election observers, since this is used to count the votes cast, but what that vote was shall remain secret and it shall be impossible to find out)
  3. It shall be impossible to manipulate the vote once cast (except optionally for the one casting it under certain circumstances)
  4. Once the election is over, the number of votes for the different alternatives shall be publicly visible (i.e. possible to verify without relying on any device, the inner workings of which not are not publicly known and verifiable)

To accomplish this, the vote must be represented by some physical property that is effectively indestructible in the timeframe of the election (absent force majeur). This is where electronic voting gets into trouble. An electronic vote is represented in memory as a physical state, not a physical property. We are talking about the energy state of electrons and things like that. One can liken it to a ball that can be in either of two cups, inside a box which nobody can peek into until it is time to count the vote. There are many ways to move the ball inside the box after the vote is cast – for instance by shaking the box. Similarly there are ways to change the memory state after the vote is cast, but before it is counted.

The key here is that the position of the ball is a state, not an inherent property. And since the vote has to be secret, by definition we can not guard it against manipulation by observing it. Thus we have to conclude that the vote has to be represented by such a physical property that cannot be manipulated out of view. Hence, electronic voting is not acceptable, unless – that is – the vote is recorded on an indestructible memory. There is such a memory. It is called PROM, programmable read-only memory. Will that work?

The memory must be able to record at least 4 conditions per race: Not voted, voted for alternative 1, voted for alternative 2, or a vote for neither (null, blank). The memory bits start out as either a 0 or a 1, and can only be changed once to the other state. This means that one bit is needed for each alternative, and if more than one is marked, it will be a null vote (similar to hole punching in paper). However, existing PROM memories typically don’t allow manipulation of bits or bytes, but only of whole pages at once, and that means that each voter would have to use up an entire page for his vote. Such an election would consume a lot of PROM chips. In fact, it would probably be much cheaper to vote manually using paper ballots inside envelopes stuffed in a transparent box, the good old-fashioned way.

The conclusion is thus that with existing memory technologies electronic voting does not live up to the requirements. They key would be to develop PROM memories with small page sizes, perhaps in the form factor of memory cards. But how to make sure there is no fraud with the physical cards being exchanged? There is one obvious way: That each voter uses a single memory card and deposits it in a box. Kind of like manual voting with paper ballots, isn’t it? Or else the PROM memory has to be semi-permanent inside the machine, exchanged only between elections. It could work.

There is one other way to assure that the memory state is not altered, and that is to control all methods by which it can be altered. In practice this means having complete control over the code of the computers involved. This is not the case in any system today, but it is theoretically possible, if both hardware and software are open source. However, that in turn requires a public development, and that is something that the private players who are in the field today vehemently would object to. So much so, that they might even be tempted to steal the election for the candidate who promises to protect their voting machine business.

Combining PROM memories with small page sizes, locked inside the machine for the duration of an election, with open-source software, electronic voting may be acceptable from a democratic point of view. But today we are a long way from that goal.

PS. Considering how fast and secure manual voting can be (e.g. in Sweden, where results are available sooner than in some countries with electronic voting, such as Venezuela), it just doesn’t seem very worthwhile to go electronic.

U.S. Constitutional Amendment proposal

The occupation of Wall Street, or actually a park a few blocks away, has shed light on the democratic deficiency in USA. The main reason is the corruption of the politicians. Nobody can serve two masters, says the Bible, but the Congressmen are expected to serve both the tax payers who are paying their salaries, and the donors who are paying their election campaigns. Since the latter is the larger post, no wonder they get the lion part of the politicians’ attention. The focus of reform must therefore lie on ending the institutionalized political corruption in the legislative body of the union. This requires attention to several different details at the same time, which I will address in the form of a proposed text for a constitutional amendment.

Paragraph 1. The first ten Amendments of the Constitution shall be named collectively the “Bill of Human Rights” and the word “person” shall refer to all living human beings from the moment they are born. Comment: Since the 19th Century a Supreme Court precedent has given corporations the same constitutional rights as human beings. This article is designed to undo that precedent and return the power to the people.

Paragraph 2. Congress shall make no law relating to specific cases. All laws shall be of a general and universal nature, and apply equal for all cases where the circumstances are similar. Neither a chamber of Congress, nor an individual member of Congress, shall express an opinion on a specific case, nor on the application of bills decided on by congress once they have become law. The specifics shall be formulated in regulations emitted by the administrative agency charged with implementing the law. Comment: By removing the possibility for congressmen to influence specific cases, a significant reason for bribing them is eliminated.

Paragraph 3. An administrative court system shall be established by Congress. Individuals and legal persons shall be able to turn to this administrative court system to challenge the implementation of regulations based on laws, or the implementation of regulations in actual administrative practice, including in individual cases. Decisions shall be appealable to Appellate Administrative Courts, and the highest level of appeal shall be the President’s cabinet, subject to their approval of attending the case. Comment: This will replace the practice of turning to ones member of Congress in case of trouble with the federal government, a practice that invites corruption.

Paragraph 4. Every member of Congress has a right to an up or down vote on the floor of the chamber, in the same session, on all proposals submitted before noon on the 30th calendar day since the inauguration of a regular session of Congress. Comment: This is designed to force Congress to function better than today, by removing the possibility to indefinitely stall proposals. It removes the possibility for a single member to exert undue influence, and thus it eliminates the possibility for special interests to bribe a single member to do just that.

Paragraph 5. All legislative proposals intended to become law must be reviewed for constitutionality in its final form before an up or down vote is taken on the floor of a chamber of Congress. This review shall be made by a Constitutional Board, consisting of 6 members all holding research doctorate degrees in Law, proposed by the House and approved by the Senate for 12-year staggered terms with one replacement every second year. The board can only make written statements and may only express opinions on legislative proposals as a group. The board may not express opinions on bills that have already become law, that being the exclusive privilege of the judicial branch. Comment: This is designed to both fight corruption, and improve the function of Congress, and improve the judicial situation of the country by eliminating the possibility of unconstitutional bills becoming law. Since the final draft must be reviewed, it excludes the kind of last-minute additions that are the main method by which pork is inserted into bills as payback to campaign contributors.

Paragraph 6. The President of the union shall appoint a cabinet of no less than 5 and no more than 20 members, who shall be approved by the Senate, having the right to an up or down vote within 20 days after the nomination, counting only the weekdays when the Senate is in session. All decisions shall be taken by the cabinet in quorum with at least half of the cabinet members apart from the President required at the meeting to have a quorum. The only exception is in the case of a declared war or a state of emergency, in which case the President can decide on urgent matters alone. As soon as circumstances permit, but not later than 72 hours after the decision, the decision and the justification for it and the nature of its adoption shall be communicated to the members of the cabinet who were not present when it was taken. The Vice President shall be included as a cabinet member without portfolio. In the case of an equal number of votes for and against a proposal, the President has the deciding vote. Comment: This is designed to speed up the taking office of the new administration after a presidential election, as well as to make the executive decision-making more democratic, and less prone to errors of judgment of a single person.

Paragraph 7. Members of Congress represent all the people of the United States, and they all have a right to a reasonable contact with any member of Congress who is involved in a committee that deals with the policy issue that the person wants to discuss. This right extends to interest groups formed by individuals, provided they have only individuals as members, that the group has a democratically elected leadership according to the principle one member – one vote, and that the group does not accept donations from for-profit organizations. Corporations, corporate interest groups, or lobbyists employed by corporations may not discuss policy with members of congress in closed meetings, only in meetings open for the public. Comment: This is another way to make corruption harder.

Paragraph 8. Political parties have a right to a tax-funded campaign contribution that is proportional to their result in the previous election of the same kind, i.e., for the House, for the Senate, and for the President. The result shall be counted as the nationwide percentage of the votes, not as the seats won. The size of the contribution shall be proposed by the President before each election, and given an up or down vote by the Senate within 20 session days. The Parties shall be in charge of distributing this money to their candidates’ campaigns as they see fit, but ultimately it is the Parties themselves through their chairman who is responsible for making sure the public funds are used in accordance with election law. This shall be the only financing for the general election campaign except for new parties since they are not receiving any funds. Comment: This complements the measures against corruption by providing another way to finance a campaign.

Paragraph 9. Public servants in a position to make decisions on individual cases in which a regulation based on a law is implemented, have a personal responsibility to make sure the regulation and the law are being implemented justly and fairly as the lawmaker intended. Comment: This is designed to assure that the implementation of the laws are not arbitrary, as a complement to the administrative court system, to which the civil servants may have to answer if they misbehave. It is thus designed to prevent them from being corrupted instead of the politicians.

Paragraph 10. Cabinet members in charge of [key secretaries, maybe the 5 main ones] will appear individually before the House to answer questions at least once per congressional session, but no more than once per month. Comment: The purpose is to increase the transparency in governing, and to make the elected representatives more able to follow up on how laws are implemented.

Paragraph 11. Every U.S. citizen shall be entitled to have free access to official documents, in order to encourage the free exchange of opinion and the availability of comprehensive information. The right of access to official documents may be restricted only if restriction is necessary with regard to: the security of the Union or its relations with a foreign nation or an international organization; the central fiscal, monetary or currency policy of the Union; the inspection, control or other supervisory activities of a public authority; the interests of preventing or prosecuting crime; the economic interests of the public institutions; the protection of the personal or economic circumstances of individuals; or the preservation of animal or plant species. Comment: This is to further transparency in governing. The wording is taken from the Swedish constitution where this provision has been seen as a central tenet since 1766.

That is my proposal, a draft. Note that there is not one single measure to end corruption, but a plethora of changes designed to circumvent the different practices and cheats that are being used, at the same time making it both difficult and rather meaningless to bribe a politician. I hope to receive comments, although I know it is hard to register (go to bottom, there is a tiny link; sorry for having to do that but the spam was killing the blog and I haven’t had the time to find a better solution). You can also comment on Facebook.

El Golpe de Estado de Chávez 1999

Todo el mundo reconoce que Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías intentó hacer un golpe de estado militar en Venezuela en 1992, pero no es tan bien conocido que llegó a hacer un autogolpe en 1999. Este video muestra claramente como lo hice.

¿Qué significa? Significa que la constitución venezolana de 1961 todavía sigue en vigor, y que el pueblo venezolano legitimamente puede levantarse contra el régimen de Chávez y derrocarlo, ya que la constitución de 1961 no solamente les da el derecho, pero les da el deber de hacerlo.

Por el resto del mundo significa que les sirviera mejor no tratar el régimen de Chávez, ya que no es legítimo. Un nuevo régimen democrático puede censurar a la OEA y la ONU por no haber defendido la democracia en Venezuela. Como sabemos, el único país que ha detenido este tipo de autogolpe del siglo XXI es Honduras, pero siempre hay la esperanza de que los pueblos en las democracias caídas se levanten. Ahora cuando el pueblo en Cuba está despertando, dejando el miedo atrás, solo es una cuestión de tiempo hasta que todos estas dictaduras en America Latina caen.

Además, la salud de Chávez puede acabar con su vida y su régimen golpista en cualquier momento. El hombre propone pero Dios dispone.