Is There Any Silver Lining For The Venezuelan Opposition From Sunday’s Elections?

December 20, 2012


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.

27 Responses to “Is There Any Silver Lining For The Venezuelan Opposition From Sunday’s Elections?”

  1. […] Is There Any Silver Lining For The Venezuelan Opposition From Sunday’s Elections? […]

  2. The Grim Reaper Says:

  3. Jack Ryan Says:

    Is he dead yet?

  4. Kepler Says:

    Mega, and what if Chávez is kept alive, somehow, for one, two years?
    (I don’t think so, but that is not such a weird possibility, just less likely)

  5. megaescualidus Says:

    Chavez out of the picture (dead, kaputt, “ponchao”, or whichever way you want to call it) will be such an inflection point in Venezuela’s current affairs that, perhaps (and just perhaps) the opposition will feel re-energized again to go massively to the polls. Contrary to Miguel’s argument, I keep saying Capriles’s slim 4% win over Jaua cannot be extrapolated to a similar performance in a “presidenciales” elections. My reasoning is very simple: Chavez out-of-the-picture is precisely what the “escualidos” (myself included) have been waiting for for years. And, also contrary to Miguel’s comments, I’d even think Capriles would have a good chance over Maduro even in the hypothetical scenario of new elections happening soon (“30 days after the absence”).

    • Jack Ryan Says:

      Not if Smartmatic is there. You sound very naive. You underestimate your enemy, your foe, your adversary. There will be opportunities but not the way you say them.

  6. Alberto Finol Says:

    The opposition is completely wiped out, with or without Chavez Revolution reached the point of no return. The “damage” can stay in Venezuela cursing, those with money should emigrate now there is time, opponents no money should emigrate to Miami to do dirty things to survive .. They have no choice .. I think not withstand what remains of his life piece of cursing and waiting for the virgin appears and place in government ..! jejejeje..!

  7. PM Says:

    If Andres Velazquez counts the actas again and they find he lost, he should apologize publicly. I agree that they should do a recount if he believes there’s something fishy with the results. Saying, however, he’s the new governor and claiming there’s been fraud is extremely irresponsible. On top of that it wouldn’t be the first time he does it..

  8. Kepler Says:

    Oh, my God!

    Chigüire Bipolar is reporting about a new analysis of article 233 of our constitution:

  9. amieres Says:

    Given the discipline the opposition voters have demonstrated I believe any decent candidate fielded by the opposition can achieve around the same as Capriles did in Oct 7th, anywhere between 34% and 37% of.the electorate.

    Having said that I also think chavismo should be able to beat that with either Maduro or Arias Cardenas as the candidate getting around 39% to 41% with the machinery in full gear and with the chavista population in one of the first 3 grief stages: Denial, Anger and/or Negotiation.

    Since the road is going to be long, the opposition should focus instead on the mayoral races, supposedly coming soon. Having learned from this experience they should be able to win many of the most important cities.

  10. deananash Says:

    Venezuela is lost. Europe is a long way down that road, and America is heading that way too. Asia, on the other hand, is moving in the opposite direction (towards more liberty.) As they do, their economies grow and their people prosper.

    The time to get out of Venezuela was a few years back (as I suggested numerous times). If you still can get out, you should leave NOW. I’d suggest Chile if you could get in. Perhaps Canada.

  11. I hate to say I told you so, and also to repeat a previous comment from a couple of posts ago, but here we go again…discussing the legalities of the constitution.

    The constitution is not worth the gazeta its printed on for these people!! When will we finally understand that?? The second the suggestion is made that Chavez can be sworn in from Cuba because hes too ill or that the date he is sworn in is irrelevant because what matters is the “peoples will” no some date…well then, what else can be said besides, Laws. Are. Useless!!

  12. A. Shaw Says:

    “Diosdado suggests that Jan. 10th. can be postponed.” Octavio writes.

    The Constitution in Article 231 says about “Jan. 10” that “The candidate elected shall take office as President of the Republic on January 10 of the first year of his constitutional term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly. If for any supervening reason, the person elected President of the Republic cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, he shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.”

    Clearly, everybody — including blind people — sees the Constitution is flexible about the place of taking the oath, since the Constitution specifies either the National Assembly or Supreme Court as venues for taking the oath.

    But is the Constitution also flexible about when the oath can be taken?

    The Constitution explicitly says the taking of the oath shall be on Jan. 10 when the taking is at the national assembly. But the Constitution is silent about when the taking must happen if the taking happens at the Supreme Court.

    In other words, one can either restrict “Jan.10” to the first sentence of 231 or extend by implication “Jan 10” to the second sentence of 231.

    We know Cabello likes the former view of 231, but the Supreme Court itself will likely chose the latter view. Personally, I don’t think the Revo should gloat excessively over Oct. 7 and Dec.16. In other words, I agree with the likely Supreme Court view of 231. But, in either the former or latter view relative to 231, Cabello has very solid constitutional ground to stand on.

    So, let’s not be dismissive and arrogant toward Cabello because Cabello is just an engineer.

    • You like to insult a lot, but the only arrogant person is A. Shaw, there is a decision in 2002 that says such date can not be postponed. Jan 10 is not Jan 12th. the rest is BS in your mind and the interpretation that the first part does not extend to the second is simply silly law manipulation, there happens to be a comma before saying in front of the assembly, which means it will take place on that date no matter what. They will do whatever they like, because that is what they always do, the law and the Constitution be damned.

  13. John Reistroffer Says:

    There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room and everyone acts as if he’s not there.

    1) Is there any effort being made to clean up the electoral rolls?

    2) What about a review of software being used in the electoral process?

    3) Any ground truthing of votes cast to electronic results?

    4) Anything being done about equal air time?

    5) What about unfettered use of public money for one party to use for their campaign?

    What gorilla?

    Did you see a gorilla? Not me!

    Anyone here see a gorilla?

    No one here but us chickens!

    What is the definition of insanity? Keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

    • deananash Says:

      That’s ’cause it’s an elephant, not a gorilla. Haha. Seriously, anybody notice where the appliances in the pictures came from? (Hint, Haier is fast becoming one of China’s largest multinationals.)

  14. Romer Says:

    I agreed with you “Let Chavismo deal with the economic adjustment necessary ” and I say let their win and rather than later the “Caracaso” will come, let their deal with the hungry people, with the debt that can’t be afford, with a PDVSA falling apart, with the teachers and all the publics employees with a misery salary eaten by inflation, their will fall from grace and in the midle of the ashes there won’t be another way than rebuild the country free of the communist trash.

    unfortunately this will take a couple the years

    • notiven Says:

      Don´t agree here with you Romer. It remembers me a time when opposition said don´t vote in the Assembly elections ( 2005 ) and let chavismo take all the blame and look what happened. If chavismo keeps deteriorating the Country, in a couple of years it will be even harder to recover It, so the sooner the better

      • Romer Says:

        I’m gonna vote for Capriles again and a thousand times if is necessary but stupid people is in love with the politic of “give me a house and a refrigeretor even is that will never happen” thats what I think Maduro will win.

        that happend in 2005 was a mistake,but chavismo was lucky, remember than since then Oil increased its price from 40$ to 150$ that was the reason why the Chavismo could survive and support all the “misiones” But Now is different the Debt was then 34MM$ and Now is over 220MM$, Venezuela used to produced almost all their food, Now all is Imported and almost 50% of all business have closed, Comunism can’t be sustained in time.

        We need to be mayority to rebuild the country and for that happen the chavismo have to fall from grace and this only will happen when the country is in ashes.

        I hope for the best ready for the worst.

        I prey every day hoping to be wrong, I want that Capriles win the election and that we can save the country, but i dont think that will happen, ones again I hope to be wrong.

  15. Glenn Says:

    Miguel I guessed you didn’t get the memo. The constitution was scrapped years ago.

  16. notivenJavier Says:

    Miguel, taking your words ” In a scenario with no Chávez, Chavismo will no longer be able to feel comfortable going into any elections”, it´s like saying there is no chavismo without Chávez

    Psuv already started saying that their governors won without Chavez´ help, that they won because chavismo is already a way of life model and they do not need Chávez alive, they Psuv is starting to recognze that there is chavismo witout Chávez.

    So the next presidential election will be a race to control the mind. Psuv saying that Chávez is not needed alive vs whatever the opposition has in mind. ( In this regard I wish this time opposition considers taking tips from people like JJ Rendón, the best campaigng manager south of the border. )

    I think there is hope. If oppostion can bring in voters under the idea that this time there is a chance to win because Chávez is not running so they will vote for the winner, and at the same time demoralizing the chavistas saying that there is no chavismo without Chávez, then we can go back to your scenario in which with no Chávez chavismo will no longer be able to feel comfortable going into this election.

    • Noel Says:

      I think that you may be optimistic. Communist China and Russia survived for many years after the death of their emblematic leaders, Mao and Lenin. They did so because the cult-like figures of the founders had been built, the parties had close control of society and the communist parties closed ranks behind a leader.

      In Venezuela, it seems to me that the first two conditions have been met already. The third, and main hope for the opposition, is for the Chavismo leadership to split. Of course, it would help if the opposition were more credible with the voters. Capriles may have run a good campaign, but he looks isolated to me.

      • deananash Says:

        I agree with Noel. As I’ve long stated, the problem isn’t Chavez, it’s Chavismo, and that isn’t going anywhere.

        If oil stays roughly the same, so will Venezuela. If oil collapses, then the government will do “whatever it takes” to maintain power. The last thing they will try is an economic/policy correction. In case anyone doubts this, look no further north than Cuba.

        Keeping people “equally” impoverished isn’t the goal, it’s just the means to the goal. The goal? Why maintaining “first among equals” status, of course, silly.

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