the first official drop out from the Unidad primary campaign happened. He was never a favorite and could not even convince his own political party COPEI to support him, even though they had no one better placed, and certainly not "El Tigre", Eduardo Fernandez. Osvaldo Alvarez Paz time came and went in 1993 when he came fourth in the election when he could have come first had Caldera not decided to wreck his party that did not want him anymore. Thus easing the way for an "adventure" five years later, which sure enough came.
I kind of like the man even though he had no chance. His personal fortitude unfortunately had a whiff of olden days and they could not work out with a country electorate who seems desperate to get an efficient Chavez, just as if that was possible in the collapsed narcostate that the new president will inherit in February 2013. Alvarez Paz could not promise that and thus he suffered in the polls, recognizing this tonight very candidly at Alo Ciudadano. Not only at the polls, but the campaign money is scarce and focused by the political decision made by the donors that the next president of Venezuela has to be significantly younger than Chavez, and consequently must not have run for presidential office ever until this year. Which pretty much will kill soon enough Arria in addition of Fernandez.
And yet his sacrifice, as the one of Arria, will not be in vain because they will force voters to understand that 2013 aint' going to be a picnic at the park and if it were not for these brave souls no one would force Perez and Capriles to use a more serious speech even if only occasionally. They are both statesman and both are running for duty more than any real ambition as both have had plenty of successes in their political lives, none of them needing the drudgery of an electoral campaign and the killing strains of running a wretched country for 6 years. And both have committed themselves in advance to work for the winner of the primary, for unity, for the country. And both certainly will be top choices diplomats and experts in the coming administration. Their career is not over.
Brief electoral update
Since we are on the topic let's update our horses.
Capriles and Perez are still on top. Capriles is summing curious support, from the left through PODEMOS and Causa R. But Perez seems to be loved by the social democrats equivalents as Tal Cual has all but officially endorsed him.
If these guys are on top, polls indicate that their lead is far from overwhelming and Maria Corina Macahado strong security themed campaign is making some inroads it seems. Question: who is financing her TV ads since she has no party behind her? And she has still to announce that she has collected enough signatures to run, spending a lot of time with Arria getting these signatures.
Arria does his twitter campaign and patiently crisscrosses the country for small but consistent meetings. I think he is really trying to place himself as a necessary helper for whomever wins and has probably as secret goal to get a 5 to 10% share who practically ensures him the foreign secretary office for the troubles ahead.
If the other are inconsequential there is still the Leopoldo Lopez question mark. Not only the regime keeps claiming that it will not recognize the IACHR ruling to allow him to run, but it seems that Chavez is more than willing to pay the international cost which might force him to leave the OAS. So, instead of campaigning hard for the primaries poor Leopoldo had to do a tour of South America capitals. True, he looks like a statesman when he meets all of these personalities, but that does not give him much votes since the ones he would get having his picture taken with these figures he already owns.
The two questions hanging in the air still hang: what will AD and PPT/Falcon do?
AD is reinvigorated some through the burial of CAP. But AD still does not have a candidate and cannot find one. Rumors on Ramos Allup running after all persist but the prospect of an utterly humiliating defeat (too much of the past like Paz, Fernandez and Arria) is stopping him. Their calculation is simple: what is best for them for the local election primary effect: to run behind Ramos Allup or behind, say, Arria or Perez or MCM? If logic were applied Arria should be AD man but as far as I know they hate him so they have to decide between Perez and MCM, probably pushing them above the mark!
As for the PPT it risks to fall into oblivion. The regime has found a group of disaffected PPT who are trying to steal through court decision the PPT flags. That internal fight is so consuming the PPT remains that it risks to damage its only viable candidate, the Herni Falcon cypher. But realpolitik seems to be carrying the day as now the two PPT governors have no more qualms in sitting together at meeting with other Unidad governors and me thinks that anytime soon they will have to support Perez or launch Falcon. The PPT support to Perez could give him as much as a 5% bonus, enough to bring him above Capriles since many disaffected chavistas might use the PPT color to vote for Perez. I personally think that if AD and PPT go behind Perez, he wins the primary. But three months can be a lifetime in politics so do not quote me on that just yet.
Which brings us to our last contestant, Hugo himself. Clearly he is smelling the coffee and he does not know what to do. After having used his sickness as a blackmailing tool to rally his support, he is forced to notice that it brings him sympathy but not much hard core voting (Keller and Datanalisis sort of agree on that). So, out of ideas he is trying to revive the "Polo Patriotico" that paid huge dividends in 1998-2000. Unfortunately there is no one left that may join such an alliance since all were forced to join the PSUV or to become forced opposition. So he is trying to mount some show with "community" organizations, pseudo NGO and the like. Good luck with that!