From previous post it is clear that today's results are going to be a surprise to all. The only thing we can truly measure is how rotten may be the Venezuelan elector which only votes for its own benefit, regardless of what a lousy living condition s/he is subjected to. The value added for chavismo is resentment which makes for a desire to punish those that have more than what they do, even if themselves have grown fat in the last decade. The added value for the opposition is to start steeling itself for the hard fighting days ahead. How these two opposite values will play is only going to be sensed tonight: they will truly come to be the major factors only when hunger starts hitting people sometime next year when it will force them to either question a system that does not provide, or an indolence to fight back and unjust system.
I was never quite on board in making local municipal elections a referendum on Maduro. First, there are local factors that do not allow a full strategy for that. And second, any election that is turned into a plebiscite, besides being risky, brings the worst in the chavismo beast, as we have seen in recent months. Then again what other strategy could the MUD come up after its less than stellar opposition to April's result? Thus, I could not criticize directly, reminding only on rare occasion that the basic opposition problem is that it pretends to be be an efficient chavismo light. I have always claimed that it is better to lose with a clear message than to win with a confused one that could badly backfire once you are in office. That is why my favorites in the 2012 primaries, after Lopez withdrawal, were Arria and Machado, the only ones that put a plus on the message.
Not that reaching office through the direct electoral way is an option: the thugs in Miraflores palace will never release their hold on power because too many of them will go to jail. The only hope we have in participating in elections and grow is that it will result in unbearable tensions within chavismo that will provoke its break up. Then we could make a deal with a faction, either allowing it to take office for a transition of sorts, or decree an amnesty for that group and thus reach office with their support, combining forces to make the other group carry the blame of the disaster.
In the grand scheme of things today's result is irrelevant: the economic crisis of next year is what is going to decide the game. The regime will be forced into a harsh repression and if it fails to carry it it will fall soon. But even if repression is in appearance successful it cannot last long and the deadline instead of being late 2014 maybe pushed to 2015 or 2016. By then no matter how obnoxious electoral cheating is, the opposition will win an election or the country will find its way into some form of insurgency/civil war.
Today's vote relevance must thus be seen in that context. If the opposition fails to make inroads the regime will have a brief respite, made more or less long depending on how the opposition deals internally with its defeat. But we can be sure of one thing: Capriles days and the rumored ascendancy of Primero Justicia may be over. Lopez and Machado will feel justified in calling a "qui t'a fait roi?". After all, the Aveledo-Capriles approach will have been exhausted after two years. It will take the opposition at least a couple of years to learn to juggle repression and leadership renewal.
If the opposition inroads are real but insufficient, then we will have to wait to see who blinks first. Maduro will have no real excuse to deepen repression but the centrifugal forces inside the MUD may not be contained anyway. Each side will simply look at the first mistake to pounce on the other. Chavismo may want to start some form of dialogue to deal with a situation that is escaping its hands. But my bet is that chavismo will start repression no matter what. Maduro's Cuban masters will demand it. It is in the nature of the beast.
If by miracle the recent populist maneuvers of Maduro and the outrageous partiality of the CNE are not enough to hide the solid growth of the opposition then we get into a more complex scenario. Maduro will probably go into repression if anything to force union of chavismo behind him, but the centrifugal forces of chavismo will not be contained for long. How fast the break up of chavismo will take will depend on how deep the economic crisis is and how fast the MUD will find ways to put pressure on the regime.
I suppose I can summarize it all by writing that no matter what the results are chavismo has put itself in a corner with a tanking economy. The score of the opposition will affect the intensity and type of repression but not its need for an illegitimate regime to stay in place. Chavez was good at pretending to soften when things did not go his way, but his heirs have no such subtleties, and even less the leadership.
That is all I have for you, sorry. And I am confused enough by events that I have no idea what will happen tonight. My gut feeling is that we HAVE TO improve from 2008, logic points that way. How much improvement on the other hand is impossible to assess.