I really do not believe that the opposition will have candidates in the December 2006 Presidential elections, unless the current CNE is removed and international observers are invited to follow the procedures. However, if you are a candidate, this is not the time to worry about that, the reality is that none of the candidates have any leverage today to pressure the Government into doing any of these two things.
However, if you are a candidate you may gain that leverage by announcing soon and gaining momentum. In my mind, those that have announced: Juilio Borges, William Ojeda and Roberto Smith have little chance. However, Teodoro Petkoff, who I understand will run and Manuel Rosales who according to Descifrado, has decided to run, may have a better chance. In my mind Petkoff is not very charismatic, but may be the candidate that makes Chavez the most uncomfortable. I know Petkoff is a terrible candidate, but it may not take that much to win if things continue to deteriorate as fast as they are for the Government. Rosales may be a better candidate, but he is also more open to accusations and tricks, given that he is currently a Governor.
In both cases, they can not wait until the CNE is changed, they have to announce now and start campaigning. In Rosales’ case the price is high, he would have to resign as a Governor to run. Petkoff is freer, but he has no party structure and will have a lot of resentment thrown at him because of his extreme leftwing activities of the past.
And then there are the primaries. Yes, primaries are needed but they have to be part of a later negotiation. Not one of these candidates can accept to particiapte in a primary without knowing who the the other candidates will be. Can you honestly be part of a primary if you will not back the candidate who wins? Can you be part of a primary today, only to find out that there will be a rightwing candidate in it later? I just don’t think so.This is part of the problem with the opposition, it is too diverse to be able to agree to it. But imagine Rosales and Petkoff jump in and later see that together with Julio Borges they are the top three candiadtes. I am sure all three may agree to a primary. But also imagine Alvarez Paz or a retired military announcing, can they accept them in their primary? It does not seem reasonable in my opinion.
So, my point is that those that want to run should announce soon, start campaining and putting the pressure on the Government to change the CNE, invite international observers and calling for a primary. That is what I would recommend a candidate to do, since I am not one. But neither am I advising anyone.