I have tried not to say much about the upcoming Parliamentary elections. I have also tried not to get caught up in the current excitement of Venezuelans. In just a few weeks we have gone form subdued optimism, to almost a frenzy, that suggests that we may reach the 2/3 super-majority needed to make a difference.
I view this election as simply one more step in the process of undermining Chavismo, a process that could (and should!) take some time. Yes, I do expect the total vote, the overall percentage of pro-Mud votes vs. Chavismo vote to be around 70% versus 30% in favor of the opposition, but I can´t ignore the fact that Chavismo will massively have assisted voting, lots more money than the opposition, will mobilize voters, will blackmail public employees and recipients of the Government’s largesse and stuff a few hundred ballot boxes at the end of the day.
Which makes me skeptical that 70% of the total vote vote can be turned into 66% of all elected Deputies.
But I the same time I do believe that a victory in the national vote by the large margin expected, will set off an earthquake within Chavismo. Maduro and his Primera Combatiente will be blamed for the debacle and a fight will ensue that will lead to the demise of Chavismo as we know it.
But I also believe that confrontation, violence and uncertainty will be the rule of the day as Chavismo gets used to having to share Government with the opposition. And I pray that the opposition maintains some form of cohesion, before it begins having its own internal divisions.
In the end, Venezuela will be choosing between two forms of populism. One better than the other one, but in the end two forms of the same thing. We are trapped in the last 16 years of Chavista domination. The lesser of two evils.
But I digress…
The most likely outcome of the election is that the opposition gets between 84 and 100 Deputies, a simple majority, but short of the three fifths needed to cause serious damage.
But even at a simple majority, the opposition could become a pain in the behind of Chavismo: It can change the attributes of municipalities versus states, it can initiate investigations, approve budgets and new appropriations and change the rules of order that determine how debate functions within the Assembly.
Sufficient to drive Chavismo crazy, as they are simply not used to even discussing issues among themselves. They simply follow orders now.
Of course, the cherry on the opposition’s cake will be the fact that it will be decide who the President of the National Assembly is and you can be sure it will not be Godgiven.
I hope is not an old dinosaur either.
But in the end, this is just the annoying level. Like a bee permanently buzzing around Chavismo and reminding them that they lost. And they will not absorb this gracefully. If they actually decide to even absorb it, which is definitely a possibility. The best scenario in my mind: Kicking the democratic can…
The next level becomes somewhat interesting. At 100 Deputies, or three fifths, the Assembly can revoke something it did before, censor Ministers, remove members of the CNE and/or the Supreme Court.
That’s what would be called getting annoying, really pissing off Chavismo.
I think this is reachable, but call me suspicious that we will actually get there. The CNE may not cheat everywhere, but I am sure that it has identified the districts where a few levers, a few votes and the three-fifths are just a memory, even if we did get it.
Finally, there is Nirvana, a level that I don’t think we will reach: 110 opposition Deputies. Here, we can really raise havoc on the revolution, removing Supreme Court Justices, Prosecutor, People´s Ombudsman, revoke Deputies and even call for a Constitutional Assembly.
Just imagine the level of confrontation involved.
I know many people interpret polls like we will get to this level, but I am skeptical. People may be mad enough to surprise me (Please do!) But I don’t think they will. The media is still controlled by Chavismo and the fake stories of Chavismo still sell, no matter how absurd they may be.
Thus, much like the nephew’s trial, the elections are just another step. Maduro will have to pay for the loss and any undermining of his rule is a positive. In the end, we want the process to last, so that Chavismo can be wholly responsible for the destruction of the country and any chance of it reviving becomes remote. Yes, this involves a lot of pain, but nothing like not burying Chavismo for its sins.
In some sense, better a small death than a sweeping victory. In the absence of a strong opposition that can articulate a plan, this may be the best of scenarios anyway.