Since this blog is about Venezuela we will start with the two partial elections held today which have been a major set back for the regime, even though the results were predicted pro opposition. But not that much pro opposition....
Readers may recall that two opposition mayors had been removed by judicial diktat without a trial, as the High Court of Venezuela has become a mere extension of the executive branch, removing out of the way "legally" whatever annoys the dictatorship. The two mayors were in addition jailed because, well, the high court decided it was to be. Since we live under a dictatorship that cares to pass as a democracy they had no choice but to call for new elections for these two cities. Granted, these two cities were going to give new wins for the opposition but the political calculation of the regime was that the opposition would divide and that any drop in its support would be used as a positive news for Maduro. It was not to be.
For full disclosure I have not followed closely those elections because 1) I was busy on matters that I shall talk more about later and 2) I was disgusted by the overall political response of the opposition MUD to the gross coup from the regime. Certainly we had to go and vote anyway, but I think the opportunity was badly mismanaged to score a few extra political points along the way. Then again I am quite convinced that there are those in the MUD that definitely think it is more convenient for them to remain in the opposition. But I digress.
The results fell tonight and not only the opposition retained its two cities but it increases its vote share and percentile numbers. Based on the CNE numbers available (with a few hours late while nationwide elections results in Colombia next door came out fast and uncontested, same old story with the CNE) we can see the following: [number changes from December 2013 to today]
San Cristobal went from 82,794 votes for a 67,7% to 88,991 with a 73,6% (chavismo lost 5,000 votes which seem strangely close to the numbers the opposition got extra, no?)
San Diego went from 29,665 votes for a 75,2% to 33,910 with a 87,7% (chavismo is defeated 1 to 8, in addition of dropping 2,500 votes).
All the efforts of the regime to brow beat these cities, to divide opposition, to promote abstention have failed and it looks like the gains were made more at the expense of chavismo than possible abstention. there is no way around, this is a major set back for the regime, a major confirmation that the opposition is now an electoral majority. Days of reflection for all ahead. Chavismo strategy is a dead end of violence and repression. The MUD cannot possibly win if it does not find a more durable way to tie protest and elections and clear message as it was, miraculously, the case today. Yes, I wrote miraculously.
And since I mentioned how once again the CNE was shamed by election systems outside of Venezuela, let's talk about the second election in importance for Venezuela today: the presidential one in Colombia. Let's start by saying that when a sitting president running for reelection scores a paltry 25,7% with a huge abstention, well, he is in trouble. The more so when he trails the first round winner by 4 points, and the very honorable third place has 15,2% which is almost enough to push over the top the front runner with 29,3 if she decides to go that way.
Why has Santos failed so badly, not even able to score a face saving 30%? All cannot be attributed to Uribe wishes to sabotage in any possible way the one who was his anointed heir. I am going to venture a speculation: the disaster next door, in Venezuela, with the clear electoral manipulation of the FARC pseudo negotiating stuff in Havana has turned early support for Santos proposal for peace into a serious doubtful proposition, a proposition that in the presidential debates was criticized one way or another, mildly or strongly by every single candidate (even though all piously preached for peace). Clearly the Colombian people have not valuated the economic progress of Colombia under Santos and are more afraid of him being manipulated by the FARC (and Cuba and Caracas). In Caracas Colombians voting at the embassy were clear on that idea: Zuluaga trashed, TRASHED Santos.
En Caracas Zuluaga le dio una paliza a los demás candidatos colombianos http://t.co/yr5zgbYMnp … pic.twitter.com/b5DnFOMjUW
— Enver Conde Ferrer (@EnverConde) May 25, 2014
Something that they also know in San Cristobal with this tweet:
"@SoniaInk: Mira @nom3lacalo pic.twitter.com/UI7Urs548C 1 imagen habla màs q mil palabras. Elecciones Tachira-Colombia mismo dia"@fdelrinconcnn
— Auramar Gonzalez (@auramar60) May 26, 2014
The third election I will be brief because I am too embarrassed as a French man to read that the Front National got 25% of the votes in France (and sister parties elsewhere in Europe performed quite well too, in particular the UK).
The two oldest democracies in Europe have given birth to major parties that want to kill Europe, democracy, solidarity, etc... I am astounded.....
My take, if you will, is that there are 25% of chavistas in Paris and London. Yes chavistas. Political parties that are reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, authoritarian, well, in short, full of "resentidos", people overwhelmed by resentment and thus unable to understand the wide world and thus scared to death by it to the point of believing that frontiers can be risen again, that you can function quite well in your little corner on your own. That is exactly what Chavez offered. Even his reaching out to other countries was a mere "come and subject willingly to me and my system", never an understanding and accommodation of differences.
PS. we also learned today that Correa has decided to ask for a constitutional reform so he can be president for life too. From Paris to Quito, democracy under constant threat.