To start looking into the different results and making interpretations it is important to keep in mind a few things. For example, there are no legal elections scheduled for a couple of years, the National Assembly being the next ones for December 2015. Certainly with a regime as it is we can always expect a referendum, a recall something, etc. But it is clear that even a constitutional assembly is a long reach for an opposition that cannot keep its voters motivated. It requires A LOT of motivation to go to a constitutional assembly and not only Capriles failed to make this election a referendum on Maduro, a lousy president if any, but he lost about 2 million voters that went to the mall, watched TV, etc. That chavismo has as many refusing to show up is no consolation. Thus we are going to have to live with what we have now: 3 governors, not even a quarter of mayors, and no TV. It is going to be a long two years in which the regime will make sure that the opposition does not get the means to finance an election, any election, even one for condominium chair if possible. This way the dictatorship can pretend to pass as a democracy knowing that it cannot lose elections.
Another consideration is that 15 years of chavismo have not been in vain. I will show in future posts that the client system is so efficient that in some states the opposition has simply no electoral possibility for the time being, starting with my own state of Yaracuy. Simply put, the opposition will have to rely on its relative success in major urban centers to remain alive and try to defend what it can defend. For those in the provinces we might as well find ways to join the PSUV to make sure we do not starve.
Also, we should consider that Capriles failure is also to be found in Miranda where it is clear that the parallel government set by Jaua has had an effect and that Primero Justicia has made may errors due to its arrogance as a party. In short, we do not have a solid leadership to face these long 2 years crossing of the Sinai. I do not wish as I write this to besmirch Capriles: he has campaigned hard and well, he has been admirable and deserves all of our thanks. But he is now a defeated leader and has thus to either leave the scene or reinvent himself real fast. Not only this will affect PJ even though it is Borges machine and not Capriles, but PJ has now new dogs barking in the court yard that I doubt it will be able to control that easily to remain top dog.
Thus I think it is fair to dedicate the first entry on the 2013 results to PJ and Capriles.
Fortunately to make my life easy I do not need to peruse into results all around the country to see how PJ did here and there. Already its hopes in Aragua, to name one, has been dashed even though through treachery by banning Mardo. But Mardo was also a product and victim of the PJ arrogant ambition, sending him first for mayor, then for representative, then for governor, and then back to mayor. What they did was to burn the poor guy and now I wonder what is PJ going to do with Aragua.
No, it will suffice to look at Miranda state to measure the magnitude of PJ dashed hopes and a now endangered Capriles.
Let's start with the two Caracas fiascoes. We begin with Baruta that I know well since I used to vote there and where I stay and work when in Caracas. PJ, since it was the district that made Capriles, decided that Baruta was its birth right. They insisted on a primary there even though the mayor, Blyde, had been a decent mayor. That would have been OK if the PJ front man was not a flawed one. Uzcategui is a good guy and I am sure he would make an excellent mayor. But like it happened to Lopez, he felt into the legal traps of chavismo and was under constant risk of being barred from running. Say what you want about chavismo incompetence in running the country and the economy but they have a long term view on electoral maneuvers and can come up with treachery tools years before the victims even know what is going to hit them. Sure enough, Uzcategui won the primary with less than 1% and when the regime felt it convenient they struck, in the hope of demobilizing the PJ electorate and help indirectly the election that they really cared for, Villegas for Caracas mayor at large.
Fortunately for us chavismo seems to think that opposition voters are as stupid as chavista voters and are led by a leash as they lead their own voters. It is not so and a grateful populace reelected Blyde brilliantly with almost 80%, and with LESS abstention than the nation wide figure. In fact it is possible that the anger of the Baruteños was stoked and they turned out en masse to avenge the regime treachery. But it could have been a disaster.
PJ did the same thing with Chacao where Grateron also lost the primary but with a wider margin. Then again Blyde was more appreciated than Grateron. PJ did recover Chacao (1). But Sucre, the Eastern part of Caracas, and a popular one was not won as handsomely as one expected a month ago when polls were giving Ocariz running for reelection an 2 to 1 margin. He did not reach 53%, possibly suffering of the demagogic organized looting of previous weeks. At least he will get, apparently, a majority in the council which was held by chavismo before, finding ANY excuse to sabotage his administration.
Even though not quite relevant to this entry, Libertador was also a mistake of PJ who sponsored there Ismael Garcia who may be a repentant chavista but was still too associated with the bad memories of Chavez. How much of this, and how much of the Daka effect is to be used to explain his defeat in Libertador (in addition of blatant cheating) we will never know without adequate exit polling. But the fact is that any influence PJ was hoping for in the greater Caracas has been voided. The more so when we look at the disaster at El Hatillo.
El Hatillo is a district that should have been planned as the jewel of Caracas: semi urban, semi country side, romantic cool weather, historical village, etc. But El Hatillo has systematically voted for the worst electoral options, all in cahoots with savage developments construction companies which have transformed El Hatillo in a nightmare of traffic and deficient services. Simply put, too many people expecting services for a tax base that could not cover those.
In 2012 primaries it was expected that this cycle of weak and corrupt mayors would finally be ended when a dynamic PJ candidate won. But he died within days of its victory. Considering that the high court wanted to see who voted in primaries to expand the Tascon List (2) it was simply impractical to do a new one. Since chavismo gets there one of its lowest scores nation wide (it got 11.4% yesterday) the opposition went in dispersed order. In the last weeks of the campaign it became clear that the two viable options were the one of PJ and the one of Voluntad Popular. Elias Sayegh may have many qualities but besides coming from a background close to these developers who wrecked El Hatillo, was simply too much of a well behaved kid, with a puppet feel if you wish. David Smolanski is now a veteran of the student protests of 2007 and a rising star inside VP where Lopez promotes him as much as possible, contrary to what happens inside of PJ where leadership is reserved to the few already in place. With a smashing 44% Smolanski has inflicted a painful defeat to PJ who only got 31%. And I dare say that the future for El Hatillo may be brighter because, at least as far as I know, Smolanski is not bound to any interest group that I know of. We will see how well he resits them once sworn in.
The missteps of PJ in Caracas do nothing to help Capriles in Miranda. To punish Capriles from winning the April vote and expose the regime electoral fraud, this one created a parallel administration in Miranda state, Corpomiranda, who was given with plenty of money to Jaua who lost against Capriles last December. Jaua of course has been working hard at proving that he is the one that rules over Miranda even if he lost the election. That he is also foreign minister is not a problem, Venezuela is a pariah country now so he has plenty of time on his hands.
Jaua has been helped by Capriles, now in hindsight, erroneous decision to become the campaign leader for this election. While Capriles was going around the country trying to turn the election into a plebiscite against Maduro chavismo was pointing out relentlessly that he was not in Miranda taking care of his job while Jaua distributed freebies. A price was paid.
Let's start with Los Teques, the state capital. Beyond the fact that there was a Daka effect and that Maduro went there to inaugurate a half-assed metro station, in April Capriles carried Los Teques with 52.3%. Yesterday a lousy chavista candidate got 52% even though he got 18,000 votes less than Maduro did in April. Let's go to Higuerote where Capriles got 41% but where yesterday the opposition candidate did not reach 35%. Let push further and go to next door Buroz, of Tacarigua, this most chavista area where Maduro got 66% and where yesterday a divided chavismo won anyway and summed up 79% anyway (the PSUV candidate losing but that is a tiny consolation prize). Could Capriles win Miranda today? Can an opposition circumscribed to Caracas and greater Caracas (we failed in promising Guatire and Los Teques, losing as expected Guarenas) expect to resit the onslaught coming against Capriles?
Tough times ahead for PJ and Capriles. It is clear that Primero Justicia and Capriles come weakened from this election. Both need to do some hard thinking. Capriles needs to reinvent himself and get ready for the leadership challenges that this time will come likely from Lopez whose Voluntad Popular made significant gains, one of them detailed above. Primero Justicia needs to think whether becoming the lone opposition party is what is best for them. Maybe the root problem is that Capriles is more anti Chavez than Primero Justicia who may be happy with a couple of governors and maybe about 30 town halls. Whatever it is, aggiornamento has come for both.
1) I am happy that the woman that chavismo sent to Chacao, Olga "Titina" Azuaje, who had 4, FOUR consecutive gigantic billboards in the heart of Caracas lost with barely 14%. She was a fraud through and through, appearing slim and sexy and modern in her heavily photoshopped posters when in fact she is a coarse chavista hack, chubby and vulgar and, well, idiotic. I am willing to guess that even the chavista nouveau riche that moved to Chacao's Country Club did not vote for her.....
2) the Tascon List, reminder, is the list of those who signed against Chavez and thus became pariah in Venezuela, submitted to all sorts of vexations. In the 2012 primaries the participants were guaranteed privacy in their participation. But the regime through a sudden court ruling tried to get its hands on the voting participants. The opposition had to destroy in haste these records and be fined by the court for refusing to obey. But it was that or expanding the Tascon list! The opposition leadership acted accordingly but for all practical purposes it is now almost impossible to conceive future primaries in what is now a dictatorial regime.