The Mystery of the Changes for the Venezuelan Elections

September 13, 2011

Ever since Chavez became ill, rumors began suggesting that the Venezuelan Presidential elections were going to be earlier than they were supposed to be, in order to help Chavismo. Presidential elections have usually been in early December in Venezuela and the rumors had always been in that they would take place in March 2012, a full nine months before expectations. How this was supposed to help Chavez was never too clear for me. People suggested that by then Chavez would be elected and his “successor” would be the VP and if something happened to him the VP would take over…

Except that the law does not say that. The Constitution (Art. 233) says that if the President is not able to continue within the first four years of his Presidency, Presidential elections have to take place within thirty days. Thus, this would seem to go against Chavismo remaining in power, as if Chavez had no successor, imagine holding elections within thirty days of him being able to continue with an opposition candidate that recently ran against Chavez, against whomever Chavismo chooses within a very short period of time. (This Article is absurd anyway, the Constitution (Art. 67) also says that candidates have to be elected by in internal elections of the parties. Imagine the President dying or disabled and within thirty days holding primaries and then holding the Presidential election. Ridiculous!)

The only reason to hold the elections earlier that would favor Chavez, in my mind, would be to limit the continued deterioration of the country and his popularity. The argument that holding the election in March would hurt the opposition because its primaries would be in February did not have much credibility in my book, the opposition could easily hold them earlier.Time would be short, but I have always thought that time works against the opposition not in its favor, given the fact that it has limited financing compared to the essentially unlimited financing and resources of the Government for its candidate. Imagine months of a daily campaign by the Government media against a single opposition candidate.

But that there was something to the desire to hold the Presidential election earlier in time was proven by the fact that it will take place on October 7th., an unusual date historically, which is also problematic given that voting takes place in schools, with high schools scheduled to start (They wouldn’t!) a week earlier.

There was no explanation for the earlier date, the choice is a mystery in my mind. The only possible justification was that they wanted to hold the elections for President, Governors and Mayors on three separate dates. But why they would want to do that is also a mystery to me. I agree that they can not all be on the same date, too complicated, too many choices for voters. But it certainly seems to work against Chavismo to hold the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections. on different dates.

Let me explain:

Chavez can win or lose on October 7th. In either case, if Gubernatorial elections were held on the same day, he would carry the same number of Chavista candidates for Governor on his coattails. But if he loses, his followers will be on a disarray before the December elections and they will likely get fewer Governorships. If he wins, I don’t think it will increased dramatically the number of Governorships the Government Chavismo while Chavista ones depend on the funding and power from Caracas and the Big Man.

But there is more. By holding the Presidential elections in October and Governors separately in December, opposition Governors will continue to hold their jobs until that election and will campaign for the candidate (and use their treasuries!) for the campaign. If they had to run their own individual campaigns separately, the opposition would be more dispersed, less unified, as regional leaders would be thinking about themselves first, the MUD candidate second.

So, what gives?

I just don’t know. It is a mystery. In fact, the whole thing even seems logical, if you wanted to separate the three elections, this is what makes sense. Maybe you could have tweaked it to have the Presidential election the third week in September to interfere less with the school year. But this is just about right.

I still believe that the best scenario for Chavze, whether ill or well, was to have a long period between the opposition primary in February and the Presidential election. If he was well, more time to go around the country destroying his opponent. If he was ill, more time to recover from the eight to ten chemotherapy treatments he is certainly to have in total in the next few months and then capaign and destroy the opposition candidate. If he was gravely ill, more time would also allow him to anoint his successor and help him be liked as much as possible, by having lots of time. But shortening it? Just did not (and does not) seem to make much sense.

As far as I can tell, the only advantage of advancing the date, is that there will be more time between the Presidential election and the day the new President takes over. More time to burn documents, erase hard drives and get rid of the evidence.

That’s about all I can think of.

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34 Responses to “The Mystery of the Changes for the Venezuelan Elections”

  1. deananash Says:

    I agree with Ira and thought much the same thing. Should the election results show an overwhelming loss, one so great that he couldn’t steal the presidency, then the extra time allows him to create whatever mischief is necessary – including jailing (or worse) of the President-elect.

  2. concerned Says:

    It could be just only about the money. Focus all reserves and campain money to buy the presidential election. If the PSUV has to spread the money around to buy the governor spots also, it may be spread to thin. If he doesn’t win, I don’t think it matters who wins the local and state elections. He is putting all of his eggs in one basket.

    If he does win, the local elections will not matter anyway as he will castrate any opposition victor, nullifying him of any power and leaving him with an empty budget to work with. This is not theory…he has done this before and will do it again.

  3. Lolo Says:

    He is doing so just so we keep talking sh#$%&/(t and doing nothing. That is.

  4. Gonzalo Says:

    Well certainly it is a good thing to start promoting backing up of all that data where possible so said impact is minimal to the reconstruction of Venezuela. One short note is that economically I foresee a very much lethargic 2012. My humble advice is to make the best you can out of your business on the upcoming few months. Save your revenues and be very careful where you put your eggs next year. Hay que guapear que jode. Plan for that.

  5. Euro A. Says:

    I think that the goal is to separate elections; why? the campaigning budget is one factor, by holding separate elections they will have to split budget as a consequence being less efective. A second factor I think it’s that they are afraid of regional leaders dragging votes to the national oppo candidates; Chavez against mister X is strong, But Chavez in every different region against mister X who is backed up from a regional strong popular leader not so strong. One evidence of this is Chavez winning the overall vote in Zulia on the presidency elections but losing every single regional election. That s my theory anyway…

  6. captainccs Says:

    Venezuela has a cancer. It’s called chavismo and the pathological agent is HRCF.

  7. JMA Says:

    Sadly, I suspect everything could be part of a plan to maintain power, and the opposition doesn’t seem to have a clue of what is happening. In medicine, there is a phrase very commonly used regarding rare diseases or unusual presentations of diseases: “High index of suspicion.” Those guys in the opposition should begin to investigate the motivations behind this change of date, taking into account that it may have very well be designed in Cuba.

  8. Juan Says:

    What about if the elections are in october instead of december, and chavez loose he will have two aditionall month to prepare to do whatever he have to do before handing the presidency to the next president in january, that seem pretty logical to me…

  9. captainccs Says:

    No le busques cinco patas al gato. Chávez se a a ROBRAR unas elecciones mas.

    In English: Chavez is going to steal the election once more and MUD and other opponents don’t have a clue how it will be done.

  10. Kepler Says:

    She coloured her hair and the style is once more different. What does that mean? We need to read the signs on the wall and the haircut on the head.

    Jeffry
    No doctor can say “October” in over a year. Physicians can’t predict such a thing with such a precision. Even the “you have 6 months to live” is such a wild guess. It could be 3 or 9 months.

    I don’t think Chávez is going to die. He is eternal. He is like Kim Il-sung, the Eterna President of the Republic.
    You better get used to it.

    • firepigette Says:

      This is quite correct.I had a very good experience of that with my mother.The doctors told me should would not live one more day, and that was 24 years ago.

      Never underestimate the power of spirit and will, not to mention the fallibility of human thought.

  11. Jeffry house Says:

    How about this: His doctors tell him that he is likely to begin final deterioration on or about October 1st. After that date, it will no longer be possible to hide his debility from the public. his voice will falter and he will begin to lose the ability to walk.

    Between today and, say, August, he will be undergoing chemoerapy and will not be free ti campaign.

    • JMA Says:

      There is absolutely no way to make such a prediction. If he really has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, an infection can kill him anytime despite the best of medical care. Also, some cancers can undergo mutations and become resistant to treatment, resulting in the death of the patient fairly quickly. That is, if he really has cancer.

  12. Alexander Says:

    This post is funny, it looks “picking brain”, but interesting. My first reaction is that all self-fulfilling prophecies have some logic construction and its own maieutic. One of reasons, which makes a little bit difficult to frame a self-fulfilling prophecy now, -with Chavez “: illness” hanging around- is that from some time now Chavez is looking somehow less predictable.
    This unpredictability started with is “illness”; something that many would like to be true, but without the proof no way to get convinced about his illness, it remains the methodic doubt. Therefore, if Chavez is ill, it had some sense if elections were to be held in March, as it was mentioned earlier. However, in October, just two months before it was supposed to be, does no square the circle. Everything will changes, and looks more normal, is we finally start to begin that the “illness” is part of the revolution. Only Fidel Castro knows
    .

  13. RidleyR Says:

    I was wondering if someone has simply been doing the sums. Chavez will have to ramp up $ spending ahead of the election to increase the feel-good factor. That is going to largely require imports. But he has arbitration rulings (and potentially compensation payments) coming up, along with downside risks to oil prices and tougher market conditions likely to temper further debt issuance by the government/PDVSA. He is already mobilising gold reserves, which he will probably spend. But if all of the above factors come to a head, he may just feel that he has only got enough money to get through to October without further constricting SITME sales etc.
    I suspect that he might not even have enough $ to get that far and so the election might be moved forward again at some point.

  14. Ira Says:

    I think you’re overthinking this:

    First, Chavez…whether dying or well…doesn’t give a crap about having a successor to continue his policies or philosophies. Chavez only cares about being the top dog–the policies be damned. Hell, if he could reasonably do a 180 tomorrow to stay in power, he would do it in a heartbeat.

    Second, you can burn documents in an evening. He sure doesn’t need months to accomplish this.

    Third, the lapse time may be used to discredit/arrest/create a crisis out of an opposition victory, with PSUV claiming grievance “crimes” against the nation. In effect, the preemptory coup d’etat and establishment of a real dictatorship that we know is the goal anyway.

    Finally, I simply think that all of this bullshit is just to keep people off balance, It’s Chavez’s and his cronies way of saying, “We run things here, so deal with it.” Whether it’s to their advantage or not is to be seen, but I think they’re too stupid to have thought this this through thoroughly.

    And let’s remember that Chavez shouldn’t even be ELIGIBLE for a 3rd term, if he hadn’t illegally offered a 2nd referendum on the issue, contrary to the Constitution.

    In other words, let’s stop analyzing Chavez and these elections from the viewpoint of democracy. Because democracy and free elections have nothing to do with it.

    • JMA Says:

      Indeed they are too stupid to have thought of this. It was done for them in Cuba, no doubt. The real reason for the new date is not evident, but rest assured it benefits them and hurts the opposition in some way. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have done it. What is clear to me is that they won’t relinquish power. If they ever lose the elections – and that will be a tall order because they will no doubt resort to fraud if needed – then the “revolution” will maintain power by the force of arms.

  15. C Says:

    Would anyone be surprized if Chavez were to play some really
    wild trick? No….Here goes-Deja vu- redux all over again.
    Chavez loses election-flushes more cash, records, chaos all over the
    countryside nothing working- what else is new..
    The new President is sworn in -violence escalates and
    Chavez rides back in – another coup! Chavez -dramatic hero-
    (And we find out -one day- there was no cancer)the actor
    is back in power. The nightmare gets worse…

  16. pmontu33 Says:

    I agree that having a long presidential campaign may not be beneficial to the opposition as the government will deploy all its resources to defame them.

    But at the same time, the way “absences” of the president are defined is so vague that there will never be a vacuum of power. Remember that when Chavez was in Cuba, at no point Jaua became the acting President. If Chavez is effectively unable to rule, the VP may become the de facto president with chavez as the figure head for 6 years.

    • Roberto N Says:

      Not so. If the “vacuum occurs” in the 1st 4 years, then new elections are called. After 4 years, the VP takes over until the end.

      • pmontu33 Says:

        that’s true. I’m just saying that a vacuum is loosely defined. So, even if chavez is sick and unable to rule, that doesn’t mean he is legally absent. They can protract this until the four year period is over without calling for elections


  17. Liz: Sorry, I should have clarified is a men thing, weird, but it is 😦

    MCC can run she breaks the mold

    • liz Says:

      Diablillo, I know… it was just my innocent way of saying that ‘Raymundo y todo el mundo’ is running! It seems like a national sport of sorts in this country. It really puzzles me…. I could care less about political power.


  18. Goodd you agree, funny, I thought you would make a comment in the last post…TWO PEOPLE who don’t want to be President!

  19. bruni Says:

    As I pointed out in Juan’s post, I don’t understand it either. I totally agree with you, Miguel.


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