This is not an electoral report. As I have announced weeks ago, this blog will not cover the coming elections for a variety of reasons. Still, when I read all of the nonsense or wishful thinking elsewhere, I suppose that I feel compelled from time to time to remind people that treating the parliamentary election of December as if it were a normal election is, well, close to idiotic. In other words discussing in detail the intrigues inside the MUD of PSUV is close to irrelevant. Discussing the treachery of the regime is close to redundant at this point. Speculating on the final outcome with polls and calculations is only marginally productive unless one places the comment on the consequences of the vote rather than the actual results.
Thus in no particular order a few talking points, for lack of a more descriptive title.
Electoral treachery. The regime keeps at it. In addition of banning from office for the silliest of reasons opposition leaders (interestingly no significant PSUV is banned, they do not even try to keep a vague pretense of fairness), it has now started to intervene directly into opposition parties organization on the flimsiest of excuses. Any disgruntled party member can sue its direction, win the trial courtesy DIRECTLY from the hand of the high court TSJ so there is no possible appeal whatsoever, and become the new party leader. The objective is simple: try to pry away from the MUD opposition umbrella electoral organization. Since the new "leaders" appointed by the regime are to say the least suspicious in their opposition commitment the MUD has no other choices but to expel the "renovated" parties. These in turn are expected to name their own candidates, certainly financed by the regime.
The point here is not the detail of any given electoral treachery. The point is that the regime will go in crescendo in inventing barriers to any opposition putative electoral victory and, caught in its own game, it will feel justified on December 7 not to recognize the adverse result.
Conclusion, of a sort. All of this in the end matters little. The vote is quite clear. No matter who the candidates are, the crisis has tuned out the election into a referendum on Maduro. Any yellow or red dog will get its due votes. Any treachery form the regime has no effect on the long run of things.
Do the results matter?
They do not. It is irrelevant which side wins on December 6, the task is the same for all, there is no margin of action. The price of oil keeps going down and corruption is stronger than ever. Things are so reckless that I have been asked straight for money if I want a certain permit to be processed: they will receive the request, they cannot refuse, but the evaluation will happen only if I pay a load of cash to X (fake companies exist with fiscal registry so I can even get a bill for tax purposes).
For the regime the strategy is clear: rake as much cash as possible before December 6, either to win votes, or to have a safety net if ousted, AND leave the coffers empty if the opposition wins. This one deprived of means will be destined to failure (with a fast chavista return to office). And if chavismo wins they will find a way to wing it out, using harsh repression as needed. There cannot be any other way for the colony as long as the Cuban master needs whatever it can get from its Venezuelan overseas territory. That the viceroys of that overseas are corrupt narco military and radical low life politicos only aggravates the situation.
In short, the predictably worsening economic crisis in 2016 will lead to political failure of whomever holds office. One is actually tempted to wish for a chavismo "victory" so to be able to finish it off once and for all in the following year.
The opposition will lose the election
Not only electoral treachery will be hard to overcome, but the opposition electoral umbrella, MUD, is doing whatever it takes to demotivate its potential electors. For example sabotaging folks like Leopoldo Lopez or Maria Corina Machado makes their more fervent and dedicated electoral voters want to stay home. Lack of a concrete program is as bad as lack of a principled program: lack of either one sets up the opposition for political failure after the election and has as such a demotivating effect. The current offering of being an kind of efficient chavismo, or efficient populism, an oxymoron of course, is simply not enough to pry away chavista voters who at best, it is hoped for, will stay home.
Because the opposition victory is not to get more seats than chavismo, the opposition needs a victory of at least 3/5 of the seats at stake. Otherwise it will have no veto power and no real control over a public administration and power structures solidly packed with chavista hacks. The reader should remember that the MUD is not a political party based on any ideology or coherent program, even if flawed. The MUD is first an electoral alliance to unify a splintered opposition, an alliance that has really no program beyond restoring some democracy to the country. This is by itself very commendable, but in the current calamitous situation it is not enough. Thus only a 3/5 victory will steel the MUD in front of chavismo and give it a chance to take action, if anything to call for a recall election on Maduro. If the MUD gets a simple majority this one will fall apart in front of the crisis and chavismo will not be controlled and over time will be able to pry away or outright destroy whatever it needs to recover a majority.
Chavismo will not win the election
The paradox here is that I can write that the opposition will lose the election but that chavismo will not win it. The candidate "primary" fixing process of chavismo has been very interesting. First, it was all but transparent. Second, more than half of the outgoing representatives are not running for reelection (I read somewhere that 80% were out). This does not talk at all of internal democracy inside chavismo, this talks of account settling between factions, of an absolute lack of trust in the currently serving personnel for the leaders of the current factions, or vice-versa. All prefer new blood, or have been eaten up by dissent.
If opposition need 3/5 to win, chavismo needs 2/3! If it fails to do that no faction will have an internal majority to rule over the assembly and possible outright divisions may not be contained further. With less than 2/3 of the assembly chavismo will simply have to rely even more on the military to hold unto office, either through repression, or as the only power all factions can agree on, albeit reluctantly.
The grand elector
Which brings us to the only elector that truly matters in this electoral charade: the army.
The army is under great threat. Tendency is for chavismo, and the opposition, to turn the army into the scapegoat of the whole crash. Chavismo because the army may have put the brakes of radicalization of the system. Opposition because the army did not slow down the decay and instead associated itself happily with the looting of the country.
The truth is that to avoid an outright civil war (there is already a larval civil war going on, look at the numbers of people killed every day) a grand pact between opposition and chavismo is necessary. And such negotiation can only be carried through with the consent of the fire power of the country which will be in charge of keeping order while the painful measures are being taken.
It does not matter, thus, who wins in December, the army will either rule or decide who the apparent ruler will be for the unavoidable transition.
Covering the current election as if it were a "normal" one albeit with peculiar/extraordinary parameters is, well, intellectually dishonest. But I suppose that journalists and bloggers and think tankers need to cover their white pages with ink, digital or otherwise.
The only thing worth discussing today is not the election or the immediate exit of Maduro. The only thing worth discussing is to demand a transition government and how to get one. Elections are not necessary. They will not solve the crisis, unless of a presidential or constitutional nature. Period.