People have been trying to find a silver lining in Sunday’s results for the opposition and I think they are stretching it too much, the results were very bad for the opposition. The only reason why they were not disastrous, was because Falcon won by 8% in Lara and Capriles by 4% in Miranda. But either of those two losing would have simply been a total disaster. From the raw results, Capriles barely avoided the cliff, but he only won by 4%, three percentage points lower than his margin of victory against Diosdado Cabello in 2008, who was at the time Governor and well known. Jaua on the other hand was less well known, a worse candidate and amazingly enough, a worse speaker than Cabello. Thus, I believe this margin weakens Capriles.
But I can imagine a room with Capriles and Falcón discussing who should be the Presidential candidate, should the need arise:
Falcón: Henrique, you should be the candidate. HCR: No, no, I only won by 4.01%, so please you be the candidate. Falcón: Oh, please, you be the candidate, you are our national leader. HCR: Oh please, you will probably be better at getting Chavista light votes and you won by 8.01% of the vote…and so on and so forth.
Because clearly, it will be very tough to beat Nicolás Maduro for either of them. In fact, I don’t see today how this could be done, except if Chavismo fell sleep at the wheel and decided not to rush the Presidential election. But if the do the logical thing and hold it fast, unless Chavismo splits and something dramatic happens to turn off voters, I just don’t see it possible that Capriles’ small edge in his State can be turned into a national victory. And I think Falcón is not know nationally very well and he will not have time to campaign adequately.
And the abstention numbers were bad for the opposition on Sunday, because they show how demoralized and unmotivated voters felt after the October defeat. Yes, Chavismo also suffered from the same problem, but in both the 2007 Constitutional Referendum and the 2010 Assembly elections, opposition voters had been more militant than Chavista voters when the Presidency was not involved. Since the 2006 Presidential elections, the opposition had obtained an increasing percentage of the votes every single election, except in this one. Our voters had always been much more disciplined than Chavistas, who will only turn out in large number s when Chavez was involved. Opposition voters were increasingly there, but this time around they seemed tired and did not show up. Can they be woken up again fast? It would seem hard at this time, unless something happened to wake them up.
That we know Chavismo used all sorts of abuses to win on Sunday? Of course, see picture above, but they will be even more abusive in a Presidential race, because what is at stake is the future of the revolution. They would pull off all of the stops, as they know that Chavez’ absence is a weakness, even if there will be some sympathy vote.
The opposition should have also held primaries in every single State, rather than leaving certain candidates out of “respect” for their regional leaderships. Most of those guys lost, like the Salas’ in Carabobo or Perez Vivas in Tachira. In contrast, Chavismo removed some of the tired leaderships in certain states and even if they were replaced by Chavez’ hand picked cronies, they won.
To me the main factors that explain Sunday’s results were abstention and abuse of power. Abstention, because for the first time in a while, our militant voters stayed away. And I don’t need to remind everyone of the myriad of abuse of power incidents that were seen in the last month, including the press conference on Sunday and Chavez’ son in laws two appearances over the weekend telling us what is father in law wanted from the electorate. Curious that once the elections were over, there have no more calls to pray for Chávez, nor more masses held in his behalf. End of the charade once the votes were in!
About the only silver lining I have found is the abstention for Chavismo. It was higher than in any electoral event, save for the Constitutional referendum in 2007, which the opposition managed to win. This despite the heavy vote buying and all of the electoral tricks. Which only goes to prove that it is the opposition voters that need to be mobilized and motivated and not blamed for the defeat. In a scenario with no Chávez, Chavismo will no longer be able to feel comfortable going into any elections.
And in the end, as I have been saying, it may just be for the better. Let Chavismo deal with the economic adjustment necessary because of years of economic mismanagement. It will make the contrast between Chavismo with Chávez and without Chávez even stronger.
A small silver lining is the results in Bolivar State. Andres Velasquez is a fighter and will go as far as he can to demand his rights. He will probably lose his appeal in the end, but he should go ahead and publish all of the actas on the Internet for the world to see. And leaders from other states should go and support him.
And so we wait for Jan. 10th. (or Jan 5th.?) While regional leaders tell us Chavez is very sick, our own leaders tell us everything is under control and respiratory infections are controlled in hours in another miracle of the Cuban medicine that did Chavez in. Maduro says Chavez is improving day by day, while Diosdado suggests that Jan. 10th. can be postponed. Sure, so can the whole Constitution. Maybe it would be easier to just get rid of it and do whatever they want all the time. At least there would be no uncertainties.