Last weekend I wrote the only substantive post on the December election I will write. Besides a passing comment here and there (like chavista thugs burning down the stage in Maracay where Capriles was about to make a supporting speech for the local candidate or a MUD council candidate murdered in Zulia by hired guns), this is no time to indulge in a leisurely tour of Venezuelan local peculiarities that influence local outcomes like I did extensively in 2008 or 2010. There is no point even in looking at my now traditional Caucaguita tracking post which last installment may suggest that Ocariz could cross the 50% line.
The point is that the election interest lays elsewhere than how many mayors and how many votes each side will pick up. This is truly the first post Chavez election which is tied with a referendum on the lousy administration of Maduro and how viable the opposition leadership is. With such a program a win by Ocariz in Caucaguita may look anecdotal in the grand scheme of things. Let's look thus at the stakes, as promised in last week end post.
The first thing to note is that Maduro keeps piling up measures, more insane one than the other. For example just today, on the particularly insane kind, he decided to "start construction" of a highway for the South of Caracas. Never mind that I have a map from the 60ies that already had this project on the works: the question is why does the regime makes a show of starting a project that it will never finish one week before a vote that is expected to be a landslide in Caracas for the opposition? I am not going into a lengthy explanation on why this project is insane, juts saying that it is not actual to the needs of the city; it would cost a fortune and will not resolve the traffic problem of Caracas; that the same effect would be achieved by finishing the highway from Charallave to Caucagua, at a much lower cost; that the real problem of Caracas is the centralization of the regime there of all governmental activities, the free gas, the excess vehicles, the absolute lack of a true public transport system, etc, etc.... But of course, idiots in the middle class may like the idea even though they will have little use for that road: rare is the Venezuelan in my experience that knows how to read and understand a map.
If this was inane the other thing Maduro threw at us this week end is the regulation of rentals of commercial property as well as the control, downwards, of the price of cars. The regime has established rent control on housing about two years ago and now the rental market has vanished. You will find at best a handful of rentals advertised in the newspapers for a city of at least 7 million inhabitants. If you want to rent it is now an illegal cash operation with someone you trust, worse than at any time of the heydays of New York rent control system. In other words what the regime is doing is finish off the commercial mall business that cannot provide the expected services at the rates that it will be allowed to charge. As for cars I do not worry: there are a precious few for sale already...
At this point we must wonder what is the short term agenda of the regime. Surely it cannot ignore that the current mess comes form measures taken in the last 2-3 years. Surely they are aware they failed. Officials cannot be that stupid to think that extending them in even more unreasonable exactions is going to make things much, much worse. I am even willing to bet that it is not only about elections because the main problems are not solved: when was the last time you could buy milk? I have not seen 2% milk in over a month and I am running real low in my stock. Will the disappearance of malls and cars come with the re-apparition of milk?
No, what is going on here is that the regime has decided to go into full regulation mode, a communism light if you will in that there is still going to be some private production and banking and very limited freedoms and property rights. This is what the regime seeks next Sunday, approval of that so that the radical faction of chavismo can finally assume full control of the regime. For the regime it is not even about validating Maduro fraudulent election last April, he is the mere figurehead. Note: since we are in a dictatorship the regime needs for this validation to win over half of the districts at play even if they represent less than 50% of the votes. The regulations and looting imposed by Maduro these past weeks have this aim in mind, to be as close as possible of the 50% and get 2/3 of the districts. Woe is us if they get more than 50% which considering the ease in which the Venezuelan voters can be bought is not impossible.
And thus I need not extend much on what is at stake within the opposition. Beyond the fact that the leadership of Capriles seems to weaken as he is really not getting any substantial result, and even less offering post Sunday strategies, it seems that too many of the candidates running truly believe that they will be allowed to fix potholes in their districts. What is at stake here is not whether we can stop Maduro but whether we can prove we want to do so.
And thus those that do not vote next Sunday because they have qualms about the honesty of the CNE, or are too busy shopping for the last vestiges of goodies available, if the opposition loses due to abstention of its followers, and trust me, I will figure and calculate this on myself without any help of any pollster, you will be the ones to be blamed in the coming months. And I will remind you that even if we do not know the real results the CNE and Maduro will know and will be scared if we do get more than 50%.
You have been told.