There is at least one explanation: 15 years of chavismo have managed to create a client system that I am afraid is what keeps things quiet. Wrecking the economy and individual rights results in a class of people who do odd jobs and who depend for their baseline survival on the occasional handout. After 15 years it is normal for them, they see no point in changing the system, and actually are scared to even question it. Health care might be very deficient but it is free when they can get it. Food may not be nutritious but at least they do not go to bed hungry. That public employee job they have may be demeaning and ill paid, and paid late, it does not matter, there is no other job available anyway.
Can we see this in numbers? Not quite but we can have solid hints that the system is so successful that it is spreading to all areas of the country, even those with industry and large professional populations that have found themselves in the last half decades decimated by the working conditions and emigration. The clear contrast that we could see in 2004 between the voting pattern of the country side and urban dynamic side has somewhat faded with the crisis. Chavismo wins with sometimes lower margins in rural districts but loses sometimes by lesser margins in urban ones, at least according to fraud rigged CNE results. Still, even an amateur like me can illustrate the provisional success of that induced codependency from the government to its voters. Two simple tables will suffice. The results are not striking but their are telling nevertheless.
In this first table I have listed all the districts that have more than 200,000 voters, from the largest one Caracas at large to San Cristobal. Note, I have taken Caracas at large but even if I started to differentiate its specific districts it would not change the final observations. Note, only chavismo and mud votes, I ignored for simplicity the "other" in these districts and use psuv for chavismo.
The results may seem even in that there are as many red and blue districts, but they are not. The top four districts are those who still have a significant private sector base. Weakened for sure, but still the "get up and go get it" type. The red winners are: Puerto Ordaz, state enterprises mostly; Maracay, big military component to the economy; San Francisco a semi dormitory of Maracaibo; Barcelona, rather administrative in nature; Vargas, the wretched sea shore of Caracas; and Ciudad Bolivar which used to be blue but went red for technical reasons and opposition divisions. The last two were Barinas who got a genuine revolt feel for being taken as granted by chavismo as the feudal lands of the Chavez family, and San Critobal which is a dynamic border town, as dynamic as the circumstances permit. San Cristobal could be ranked higher in the chart if I added its dormitory surrounding districts as Tachira went back strongly for the opposition this time around.
Summing it all up we still get almost +100,000 votes for the opposition advantage. Imagine a little bit less of electoral fraud, or state workers blackmail and we get at least Ciudad Bolivar and Puerto Ordaz in the blue column.
Another way to look at this is to compare directly more industrial and urban states against the ones that have a more rural quality and went 100% for chavismo like my own Yaracuy (1). The table below must be read from top or bottom to the center. The top five are among the smaller states, are all mostly agricultural (Sucre has some industry in Cumana, Portuguesa some agro industry). In all of them the MUD got at most a district or two. The bottom five are arguably the 5 more "industrialized states". I could have included Lara to make my point but 3/4 of its area are agricultural so it is more of a mixed state if you wish. In all of them the opposition may not have taken a majority of districts but they either took the big prizes or relevant districts.
We might as well start with the dissidence. In the rural states we have 6% more voters that voted for "other" than in industrial states, showing clearly, IMO, that local issues there do play a bigger role. They are smallish districts, people dealing with their own problems, difficult for the MUD to campaign, taken for granted by the regime once a Barrio Adentro is dropped in so dissidence is at first a revolt against local PSUV fat cats before becoming one against chavismo. The MUD there falls down to a dramatic third of the vote and the PSUV flirts with the absolute outright majority. Not surprisingly the mean of the PSUV advantage coincides with the total percentage of votes. It is a consistent domination of these more "backward" states.
When we go to the more industrial states things change some. Mean PSUV dominance drops by 4 points, "others" lose 6 points int their vote.The resistance MUD vote climbs to 40%. It is interesting to notice that in Bolivar where chavismo does manage to win the two urban centers, the rural districts are the ones that give the win to the MUD when all votes are counted. Maybe the governor Rangel, former military, is indeed so corrupt as not to bring the goodies ti the country side for rural control there? Maybe he thinks it is enough to blackmail state workers?
I cannot really go further without data such as exit polls or minutiae examination of the data for which I have no time nor help. But I trust that this small sample should convince the reader that indeed, the success of chavismo is not only from its "good" governance, nor its dynamic ideology, but from a more pedestrian approach of creating dependency links, when not buying votes outright. In Yaracuy I was told that a vote could be bought for about 100 dollars....
In short, the regime has created an indentured voter force system. And we know from history how indentured people at some point will do. But that is another story.
1) I do not want to make a special post just for my state, in part by embarrassment. In 2008 we lost all districts due to division of which Primero Justica played a big part for which I will always resent Borges. And yet we had way more votes in San Felipe where I reside. And yet this year the chavista candidate won, rather close but he won. I was not surprised in the end.
See, Julio Leon for a chavista governor is not a bad one. I stress: for a chavista governor. As such, the opposition paid heavily the price of not having a single mayor that could have been a spokesperson in a state which today receives mostly neutral or pro Chavez messages. Any objective observer saw that the local leadership was not renewed, that old bitterness remained, that Julio Leon was a tough and mean cookie. Only the three districts of San Felipe metro had a chance to be taken back.
For San Felipe the regime has packed the city with "invasiones", large areas abandoned to squatters that slowly were registered, many of them getting cheap houses, etc. That is, chavismo deliberately settled San Felipe with its supporters and in a mere 5 years they turned around the urban composition. Nobody wonders if those squatters would have been happier to remain in their original districts if jobs and services had been provided there. It was simpler to bring them to San Felipe to keep a tighter control on them, and at the same time destroy the general quality of life here as services for the area have not been improved while crime now compares with the rates of any other urban center.
Yaracuy is truly lost for the time being when until 2004 it was still an opposition stronghold. now there is a need to start from ground zero! Maybe Voluntad Popular could apply some of its successful recipes from elsewhere?