Saturday, October 13, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: leadership and that uncaring voter

Two results did surprise me a lot and made me think about leadership qualities and how careless are voters in Venezuela. Not that this last one was a surprise....  Whatever you may think, it led me to think about the future of Capriles as a leader of the opposition that many are going to hate me for.


Let's start with this simply astounding result: in spite of everything Chavez carried Monagas with 58%. How was that possible?

Let me remind the reader that early this year there was a major crisis in Monagas when PDVSA contaminated the drinking water of its main city, Maturin. That an oil accident happens is always a possibility in an oil producing country, and even more in a state which depends more on oil than any other state of the country perhaps. The problem arose when PDVSA tried to minimize the issue and force the restoring of water service without any guarantees. This provoked the break up with chavismo of local chavista governor, "el Gato" Briceño. I am not going back on the epic battle for the safety of the drinking water of Monagas and how callous and vengeful appeared at all time the regime against those who in Monagas had at heart the best interests of the people. The point is that perhaps as a whole Monagas was not "affected" by the crisis and it may have been seen as a "Maturin only" problem. But in Maturin Chavez also won by 56%... In fact, of the 10 parishes of Maturin he lost only in one of them, San Simon, and still with 49%.

I do not want to enter into a psychotic rant about how these people are shit even though I could be justified: in normal countries there is vote sanction and even if Chavez were to win in Monagas he should be at the very least with less than the national average. And that Chavez lost 5 points n Monagas than what he lost overall in the country is still not much of a excuse.

Unfortunately I have to put the blame in the chronic ignorance of the Venezuela, its general unwillingness to learn new stuff if it is not fashion trendy related  in short, its deep conservative nature, refusing to accept that things change. In short, a lot of Monaguenses never bought the contaminated water thing and resented more not having water than a water of low quality, which they were probably having in the first place. When you learn to live below standards, the degree at which these standards are affected seems less important

To illustrate the above paragraph let me narrate a beach story.  The Vargas shore is the play ground of the Caracas lower economic classes that cannot afford to go far for their vacations but that can hitch a ride to one of the Vargas beaches for the day. Fair enough. Unfortunately chronic governmental neglect makes many of these beaches unsanitary, from direct sewer flow to other causes such as portions of the beaches turned into "spontaneous" garbage dumps. Well, in all credit even the chavista regime every year publishes lists of which beaches should not be used. And yet, in spite of warning signs, at major holidays these beaches are full of people. When these are asked the answer is either a "I did not know" even if the sign is quite visible or more often a "I do not believe it, they are exaggerating".  If Caraqueños are like that, you can imagine how Monaguenses are.....


The other surprise is that Capriles did not carry his home state. True, Chavez did not reach the 50% and true, the null votes and other "details" make this result iffy. Still, if we were to give the null votes to Capriles he would still barely take the state and it still remains that Chavez lost in Miranda only 6 points since 2006.

This is a mystery for me because Capriles has not been a bad governor, and not only that, but he has been a much, much better governor, less scandal ridden, than his predecessor Diosdado Cabello who, it was discovered 4 years ago, had among other things an extensive fleet of personal vehicles at the state expenses. Also if in other parts of the country chavismo can manipulate information in Miranda it was possible to convey to a large portion how chavismo played dirty against Miranda.

Let's take a single example: Cristobal Rojas county.  In this one Chavez wins with 65%, admittedly down 10 points from 2006. and it is still in my opinion too high. Among a general poor living quality of the area, there has been the bad service of the railway to Caracas that keeps breaking down, that is overcrowded and unsafe, etc, etc...  People there do suffer directly from chavismo mismanagement and any improvement has come from the governor's administration. And yet Chavez retains 65%............

I am not going into another psychotic rant, and instead I am going to wonder about Capriles political future in the light of his "overturning" the primary results of February and stepping in to replace the Unidad candidate Ocariz dashingly elected in those primaries.

First, let's mention that nasty tendency of the Venezuelan to look for a caudillo to lead them.  If this is obvious within chavismo, it is also obvious among the opposition where many are clamoring for Capriles not to run again for local election because now he is "our leader" and he should "lead us against Chavez". As if the opposition did not have other worthy leaders?

I think that Capriles knows better.

First, no matter how brilliant his campaign has been, he lost   As such the tenets of that campaign need revision and the result of that inward moment may lead to a different candidate than Capriles.

Second, accepting to become a national leader when his own local leadership is contested is dangerous and gives chavismo a good and free weapon against Capriles future prospects. Capriles knows very well that he needs to prove that the Miranda results was a fluke and that he indeed is the local caudillo. Personally I think he needs to pull off a 55% result at the very least in December, winning not being enough.

Some argue that it disrespects the primary result. Baloney!

First, does any one think that Capriles would have lost the primary election of Miranda had he run?

Second, has Ocariz made any fuss? He is smart enough to understand that his return to Sucre county mayor is essential for the opposition future in Venezuela. Capriles will likely step down in 4 years form now if he is consistent with his own position that 8 years are enough in any executive elected office and the road will be wide open for Ocariz.

Third, the primary result of February are 9 months old and it is a disservice to consider them as etched in stone.  Politics is a very mobile science and primaries are indeed the best overall solution to settle issues but not the only one.

With the governorship of Zulia and Carabobo suddenly at stake, the opposition cannot allow itself to lose Miranda.  Real politics demand that Capriles return to Miranda and renews with electoral victory before anything else can be planned, be it a new electoral strategy or his own leadership as visible head of the opposition.


  1. Finally some clarity on Capriles position Daniel! It is exactly that: politics and Capriles going back to Miranda is a risk, because he can lose, but it is the only way we can stay afloat.

    I totally agree with you. I had left some comments in Miguel's blog, but I was not able to convey the essence of the issue as you have done.

    1. In a sense it is a non issue. In other countries politicians have no problem going back to humbled positions. Giscard in France went back to be mayor of the Podunk he came from. That is why I did not want to make it the title of the post, from what I was seeing in Twitter or Miguel.

      Look I my next post where I find even more explanations for Capriles move.

  2. When Capriles leaves Miranda again to run against Maduro (and loses), we will see who was right. Capriles is ceding his national leadership. Caldera and Betancourt did not look for other positions, they were true leaders of their parties. You cite some examples, there are very few in real life who had a later political life. Ocariz may not complian publicly, he is a soldier, in the end he may be better than capriles.

    1. Sorry Miguel but we will have to agree to disagree on that one.

      The situation of Betancourt and Caldera were very different. First, there were no positions to run for outside a seat for congress, that Caldera held a while. romulo himself having been president after the 1945 revolution/coup had all the needed notoriety.

      Second, Capriles is far from being the leader of the opposition. To be the leader you need to be the head of its main group which Primero Justicia is not. Capriles was the presidential candidate and the temporary leader as such. The USA, to name one, has quite a few presidential candidates that fell from view after losing a national election: Dukakis, Gore, are the most recent examples and we can even say that some presidents were never the true leaders of their party while in office such as Bush the first.

      But there are other factors here. Capriles has lost the election where he was the mere standard bearer. Never was he acclaimed as the leader and he never quite acted as such: for example his running platform was never his, he just added a few things to make it his platform in front of the electorate.

      Finally, going back to the primaries, his victory did not even make him the head of PJ, and thus even less the leader of the other parties.

      That is why it is a good move for him to go back to Miranda, to secure a base from which he can seek a renewed contract from the opposition. Right now, he is a mere cheerleader and those figures get tiresome really fast.

  3. I don't see a mystery in Chavez winning in Miranda.
    The PSUV machinery of course was the key factor. Participation for the whole state was 80.89% and it was higher in the Chavista strongholds than in opposition ones. I think this the first time this happens.

    The important question is: will the machinery be as effective in December?

  4. Imagine Chavez stepping down in March, elections in 30 days and the opposition has two candidates, precisely because Capriles did not stake out his position as the leader of the opposition by stepping aside and campaigning for everyone.

    I just don't see why the rush and why step on the primary. He can campaign for everyone, stump the campaign trail where he did worse, continue talking to voters, rather than hide in Miranda. Then, three years down the line, if Chavez is still around , he can run for office again if he wants to. This is short term thinking, particularly with Maduro stepping in and becoming Chavez' apparent successor.

    Until we respect democracy and decisions are not made in smoke filled rooms, we will not advance as a democracy. If we fail again, it will be Capriles' fault, not the voters.

    1. I do not agree, and I think your point may be irrelevant.

      First, we cannot base our electoral strategy on whether Chavez will croak any time soon. Not that I am spreading that blame being guilty myself earlier in the year when writing that I doubted we would make to October as is.

      Second, if it is true that Maduro is the veep it is also true that Chavez could not manage to send Diosdado away. This one dodged the Monagas bullet that he would have certainly won based on O7 results to remain in the second most important position of the regime, the Assembly chair. That is, the succession is far from settled even if Chavez may have appointed a successor.

      Third, there is no Capriles replacement around the corner. All of the candidates need to prove themselves. Perez needs to retain Zulia in what is now going to be a difficult battle. Lopez and Machado need to win something, anything. Other potential leaders, Barretto Sira, Falcon, Borges, etc., are even further behind. None of them is going to be in any position to challenge Capriles until AFTER the mayor elections of April.

      In other words, no matter what Capriles does he is safe for 6 months, and winning back Miranda with 55% can only strengthen his hand.

  5. Miguel. I am with Daniel on this one. Capriles needs to be in the spotlight and needs a formal post. Besides for the opposition it is better to have the strongest candidate in Miranda and Petare.

    Imagine the opposite: Capriles stays out of Miranda, Ocariz loses and there is none in Petare. What would Capriles do, then?

    He must win Miranda, I agree, but I think that, at this stage, the probability of winning Miranda with Capriles is higher than with Ocariz, as the probability of winning Petare with Ocariz is higher than with anyone else.

  6. He can wait until three years for now. What's the rush. Short term thinking is always the problem. Nobody seems to have a long term plan. Except Leopoldo. I dont think being Governor of Miranda is precisely the spotlight, it is a grind and a lot of work, without much media exposure. Julio Borges gets more media attention as President of PJ than any Governor does. We will see and I do think that the possibility of Chavez' demise in the first four years of his terma has to be taken very seriously, it may be the only chance to get rid of him.


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