The good thing is that the opposition held primaries whereas the dictatorship named its candidates outright. Using dictatorship and election in the same sentence may appear weird to the reader but this is Venezuela, a dictatorship of a new type, adapted to the XXI century international realities.
The bad thing is that these primaries may not benefit the opposition as much as they would like to pretend. Follows a quick blow by blow, trying to demythify the opposition MUD brouhaha.
The MUD malaise. A lot of people are very unhappy that the MUD decided to go to the governor election. It was, indeed, a terrible choice deftly manipulated by those rather willing to sit down with the regime to negotiate a way out. Nothing wrong with that, better to negotiate than to go to a civil war. But the problem is that the whole thing was seriously mishandled, starting by Ramos Allup who announced out of his hat that his party, AD, would go the the elections, breaking the fragile MUD unity. His timing could not have been worse: the dictatorship had managed to force the election of the illegal constituent assembly, ANC, two weeks after the opposition held a NO vote on it with a participation of 7+ million votes, and just as the electoral fraud of at the very least 1 million votes was announced for the ANC even though the opposition did not run candidates.
This was like a gelid shower on the people mood. Despondency set in, protests stopped, divison soared. As a consequence the primary had barely a 1 million participation. Normally I would term this a relative success since in primary elections it is the core base that tends to vote. But after all the tensions of the past few months, well, 1 million is not enough. AS far as I can see it, three months ago the opposition was bound to sweep 90% of the governorships and now if it gets 66% it will be lucky. And going down.
The electoral fraud. OF course, these elections held under a dictatorship are bound to show massive fraud and manipulation, going so far as to annul winning running candidates when it is too late to replace them. The problem is here is that the opposition, as it is becoming usual, has no plan B. And is covered in ridicule since it decided to apply article 350 of the constitution to allow organized civil disobedience, just to jump into an electoral contest controlled by the regime it is supposed to protest against. Failure to address that by election date will only contribute to low participation.
Weak candidates. The big surprise of the vote was that half the winners come from AD. Well, surprise for many but not really for yours truly. See, the dictatorship has been very busy attacking and jailing and exiling the best candidates available to VP and PJ parties, the one of Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles. When primary time came they could only line up second line, with a compromised electoral machinery. AD, who mostly had crocodile tears for the fate of these jailed politicians managed to have its second rate politicians elected; and even worse, some are survivors of the pre Chavez area, fossiles if you wish, definitely unappetizing for people like me who already feel like voting out of sheer obligation.
Some interesting surprises. Still, elections were held and it is worth to look at some of its results.
The "dialoguers" lost big. In particular Manuel Rosales in Zulia who could not get his wife past the post. PJ won there. Even though Zulia is its bastion, Rosales reputation has been killed by his weakness during the four months of protests, to the constantly murmured behind the scenes dealing with the regime, to the point of his people being seen as double agents. Another surprise is that the heavily merchandised Henri Falcon of Lara, the one promoted as best equipped to attrack saddened chavistas, barely managed to win with 55% against a candidate that nobody thought would get past the 30% mark. In short, the electorate did punish those who lacked in empathy during the hard months of struggle.
But the radicals did not do well. I have in mind VP of Lopez whose leadership has been decimated but who still did not get good results where it run. It only won Barinas with 35% and will have to settle for Carabobo as a consolation prize where no elections were held since the MUD agreed on a single candidate, from VP. In Apure and Tachira its results were actually dismal. It is hard to say why VP did so poorly after having been the big winner of the mayor election 4 years ago. I suppose part of it is due that VP did not want to join the election at first, and then did a U-turn that many of its voters could not digest (amen of the cash hoard incident that remains unexplained).
Primero Justicia failed its breakthrough election. PJ, arguably, had sacrificed a lot in past elections. This time around it thought that the time had come for pay back. But like VP it suffered of persecution from the regime even though to lesser extent. So PJ will have to satisfy itself with the major upset in Zulia agaisnst Rosales and the overwhelming victory of Ocariz in Miranda who won the best of all, an astonishing, and deserved, 85%! then again Ocariz is one of the most likely candidates to be disbarred by the dictatorship as they are running against him the "brightest" of its relay generation, Hector Rodriguez, who they really, really do not want to see lose.
The resurrection of AD. IT is not as big as many would like us to beleive. If it true that it won half of the contests, these are in small and weak states. One thing that people should keep in mind is that chavista voters did not appear in 1998 out of nowhere, a spontaneous generation: they came mostly from AD. And they stayed chavista, and in the small states became all chavista. With the disappointment of Maduro some are coming back and, well, they cannot go elsewhere but AD. Certainly not the openly anti Chavez parties of VP or PJ. It is a pendulum effect only too long delayed. Only three victories of AD are above the 50%, and half of them come because they were 3 and 4 ways contests in a system where winner takes it all.
By seriously hitting it's most serious opponent, Voluntad Popular, the regime scores 2 points, one that they humiliate Leopoldo Lopez and two, that VP will be less effective in helping other candidates.
With the unexpected victory of AD the regime gets the opposition they want in debate, not to mention that many in the opposition will have a hard time voting AD.
The opposition is still failing to make its case that voting is the least worst option. People like me, no matter how upset we may be, understand that we must go and vote. But the "twitter warriors", the take no survivors like Machado, the Resistencia without any visible leadership are not only pursuing their trashing of the MUD but they are NOT offering an alternative strategy.
The overall stupidity and suicidal tendencies of the opposition keep snatching away victories of the MUD. This time will be no exception even though the discontent of the country may compensate so many errors.
As far as I can see our best hope is from overseas pressure, not only on the dictatorship but on the opposition as that pressure is dependent on the opposition being serious.