I usually do post my careful analysis after a few days of reflection but tonight I can do it quite fast. The only result that matters is the abstention number. Who got what seat where from which governmental coalition member IS IRRELEVANT. They will all raise their hand when Chavez wants it so because they ALL ARE THERE BECAUSE CHAVEZ PUT THEM THERE. The role of the parliament will be just the one of some public notary just making sure laws are properly registered.
This being said.
The abstention number
Where the abstention took place is barely more relevant. If indeed the 75 % is the real number (I am getting 80 % or even more from good sources, but this also is almost irrelevant) it spreads like that: oppo districts, up to 90%, pro Chavez districts, up to 60%. No matter how you spread the abstention numbers: Chavez could not manage to convince the people that supposedly are with him to go and vote. The only ones that went are 1) the fanatics, 2) the public employees forced to go and vote for him and who did not even dare vote against Chavez just in case the voting system was “not as secret as claimed” 3) the ones receiving a Mision benefit and afraid to lose it. Period. Even Ni-Ni sympathizers could not be bothered, could not be roused to punish the opposition for its alliance with the Empire, to promote the bright socialism of the XXI century, whatever that means. They did not buy it!
The Chavez debacle
It is a Chavez debacle of which no spin will take him out. This is the first time where the winning side, with a 100% win at that, has an even sourer face than the losing side. These signs do not lie. Watch the state TV, VTV, tonight to be convinced.
It is his own debacle because he invested himself outrageously in the campaign, in particular at the end. Because he pushed indecently a political agenda that he could have waited for January to push. Because he toot-tooted around that in 2006 he would get 10 million votes. Because he made the campaign personal by trying to blackmail the affection of people. Because he put all of his prestige on line to promote a pseudo socialist model, a buy out of Latin America crooks such as Castro, a financing of the revolution everywhere, an alleged willingness of the Venezuelan people to give their money away to help other ones better off than themselves. And more, much more, but that will do for now.
Tonight we know that Chavez does not even have a hard core of 25%. The shameful pressure exerted showed that even chavismo knows that a lot of its hard core is just bought off. And can sell itself again anytime.
Well, it is a defeat, a stunning one, for the current CNE board, from the crazed shrink to Sobruta. They do not even need to resign as the next assembly that they helped elect will vote for some other people if they want to have voters ever come back at the ballot box from their free will. No point in discussing this lot anymore.
Well, it is not as bad in a way. After all, even if they had remained in the race, they probably would not have got more than a dozen seats, the abstention would have been at least 65%. Now they are all united in their demand for a cleaner CNE and voting system. If Chavez choses not to deliver, well, it becomes a dictatorship and all is allowed.
Let’s make this very careful distinction: the newly elected national Assembly is Legal but not Legitimate.
That is, 75% of the Venezuelan people do not recognize it as representative. So it is legal all right but illegitimate for sure. With all the implications that this can carry as Venezuela must approve important treaties with the Mercosur, for example.
Only by opening itself to the opposition and demonstrating that chavismo is a democratic movement this new assembly will be able to attenuate some of that original sin with which it was conceived. The sooner they find a way to elect a new assembly, the sooner we will get out of this tight spot.
This is more power for the opposition than what one would think unless Chavez opts for the outright dictatorship. Then the game is over and blood awaits us.
Under this terrible experience the opposition now will be able to forge a real unity as the only program is DEMOCRACY! All the minor parties that decided to run anyway, MAS, LCR, have been wiped out. Of the four that left on time, only AD and PJ have some future if they act fast and smart, something that remains to be seen. The other will get something as long as they follow their leadership. New players? Unlikely for the time being as only PJ and AD have the means and expereince to avoid some of the excesses that will come on us from that illegitimate and plebiscitarily failed assembly. It is Real Politik days now.
The other option is of course continuous squabbling and final death.
Tonight I am scared, but I am more optimist than I have been in years! Even after the signature success for the Recall Election. Chavez invincibility has been deflated much more than I would have hoped for, if they are reduced to admit 75% abstention. A sense of renewal is suddenly in the air. Chavismo now MUST decide if it is a democratic party or face the possibility to disappear as soon as Chavez is removed from office (with 25% only, this suddenly might be closer at hand than expected!). The opposition now has to find real leaders either in what they have, either in outsiders like Petkoff, either form a new one. But it MUST happen now. The opposition now also knows that 75% of Venezuelans are willing to listen to a good offer. We might not be such sheep after all.