Saturday, January 12, 2013

Now what? Looking at the 2013 Venezuelan calendar

Let's start with the clear driving theme here. If chavismo has perpetrated a constitutional coup this week is to find a "legal" way to keep Nicolas Maduro in charge so that when elections are called he will run as the incumbent, the one that spreads goodies to the voter. Chavez has bought 4 elections (2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012, 2 for one in 2012). Thus Maduro thinks he can buy his own election. But he needs time and power. Hence the coup which 1) sets him in place as the top dog until election day, or until Chavez comes back, whichever comes first and 2) gives him all the time he needs to get ready assuming Cuban medicine is miraculous enough to keep Chavez on life support whatever time it takes.

Now, there are many flaws on this plan.

First, Maduro is far from ensuring the unanimity around him. Very far.

Second, the coffers are empty as all has been thrown through the window last year and  he will need some time to find the funds necessary to his campaign. I would estimate his election price tag is around 10 billion of dollars, assuming that electoral fraud helps a lot. Clean elections? Maduro cannot afford them, literally  in all possible senses of the term. I can assure you that elections are going be dirtier than you can imagine. That is, unless a portion of chavismo and the military force Maduro to play cleaner than he wants, always a possibility if they do not want him in office.

Third, worrying so much about succession politics has left the country badly unattended. Food shortages are rising and inflation is about to start increasing its rate again.

Thus there is a need for Maduro to hold elections as soon as possible, but as late as necessary to take all in hand.  And even that date is of iffy control since at any time Chavez may croak and a croaked president cannot be hidden as well as a life support president, no matter how cold is the AC at the CIMEQ.

I wrote a couple of days ago that we could estimate the rate of chavismo voters degradation at a 0.5% a month. It starts slowly at first, speeds up at food shortage time and goes down again asymptotically when we reach the 40% floor that will vote for Maduro just because Chavez said so.  To simplify the math let's just say that starting at 55% in October 2012 Chavismo will lose every months 0,5% until it is at 45%. In other words, it is fair to assume that by July chavismo will dip under 50% unless Maduro finds some economical miracle to stop the decline.  Which goes a long way to explain why the opposition is not as upset about the coup as it should and why Capriles himself keeps his come flor campaign. I think they are fools because too weak of a reaction will allow Maduro and Luisa Estela to violate the constitution further, but that is another story.

I hope that now you understand better the paradox on why chavismo, benefiting for a an early election, is taking the risk to push it further.  Still, I am sure that we will have elections, in June at the latest. Let's look at the official Venezuela holiday calendar to see when the regime will dare hold elections. If it does, for that matter.

Venezuelan electoral calendar 2013?

Above there is the official holiday calendar of Venezuela for its first semester. I have used color stuff to illustrate the following.

In fuchsia.  Chavez death not having been announced yet, per constitutional rules (yeah, right...) there will not be elections until February 17 included since it falls in a holiday week.

In pale orange. All the bad weekends, those that coincide with extended holidays.  True, opposition voters tend to go more away on holidays so for all that I know these days could be the target. But then again in December 16 chavismo also suffered from massive abstention and with a dead Chavez chavismo will be more despondent while the opposition will be more motivated. So I rule out these Sundays.

In pale blue. The municipal elections. Technically they could be used in combination with a snap presidential one and be used as coat tails to win the municipal elections. Thus the question mark on the right.

Orange Circles. That leaves basically three workable Sundays for presidential elections before May 26.  After May 26 it really does not matter what Sunday is picked because the mechanics behind a post May election become different than pre May where the sympathy coat tail of Chavez may still play in full. Note that even though March 24 is a NoNo Sunday it is the only one that chavismo could dare to use as many chavistas will not be on vacation quite that Sunday, or certainly can wait to leave on Monday provided they get an extra day off April first. The election is going to be dirty, remember....

In pale green. Once they have decided on the possible election dates, they can decide on when to unplug Chavez.  Those weeks are in green, 30 days before election (or 40 if TSJ rules "30 work days" instead of 30 continuous days).

I think that they will try to go for a 26 of May date.  First, they can use the occasion to sweep as many town halls as possible. But also that makes Chavez die the second week in April and give him state funerals on April 19, our first independence day. Imagine all the electoral campaign videos that could be shot that day........ Note: April 19 is also a good day for Chavez to return to Venezuela, to help his people suffering and for the push needed to sweep all town halls in May..... But let's not count much on that though miracles happen.

Should we make a poll about the next election date?


  1. Daniel,

    Are you using the term "unplug" literally, or figuratively? Even in a coma, the cancer is ravaging his vital organs. They can only do so much with life support, and I don't think he has months left. Now, you could mean "unplug" in the figurative sense of announcing the death (which had in fact already taken place previously), However, this implies that Chavez could already be dead, and that fact is a well-kept secret. But, I don't believe that, for the same reason I don't believe in conspiracy theories. You just can't maintain secrecy for long about something like that. Someone will let the cat out of the bag.

    1. Anonymous10:53 PM

      That depends a lot on the type of cancer and prognosis, and why he is currently in coma and how badly his brain was damaged. We just don't know those crucial factors. He could easily be dependant on a heart and lungs machine by now for all we know, so unplugging could mean literarily.

      His death could also be hidden for a few days, easily. Possibly weeks, if the Cuban internal security is good enough. I don't see it lasting years, but two or three weeks ... sounds doable. The mechanics are in place, that's for sure.

  2. Anonymous8:55 PM

    We know from recent Venezuelan history, if the coffers are empty, just print more money! For me, this (in the 80"s) is what led to the fall of Perez and thanks to Caldera, allowing his government to take it to the max, brought Chavez to power.

    1. Printing money in bolivares helps when you produce at home. What Maduro needs to print are dollars.


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