Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting ready for 2014 (3): there are two electoral problems

The knowledgeable reader may wonder how come I chose as a third forecast entry to talk about the electoral system since technically there are no elections before December 2015. Don't we have more pressing problems to solve like the economic crisis ahead, the leadership of the opposition, or more pragmatically, ways to resist for two years the dictatorship and force this one to go again to elections, even if rigged?

What matters about elections is that they are part of the crisis, and part of the solution. I do not mean that an election is the way out, it is not. But the "theoreticial" way elections should be held is as much a problem for chavismo as it is for the opposition.

For chavismo the problem is simple: the electoral system of Venezuela is a fraud and that makes Venezuelan leaders pariahs that can only be received elsewhere check book in hand.  If there were going to be a problem between, say, Venezuela and Trinidad, the whole civilized world would stick behind Trinidad (or even Guyana) without thinking much about it. Amen on the general negative perception of the country that makes rating agencies look with little favor upon regimes based on such an illegitimate origins. You know that Venezuela is a true caricature when in a strong debate in the parliament of Catalonia  the opposition leader told the provincial leader that he was not in Venezuela or Bolivia to eschew debate. Let me put it this way, the regime has gone as far as it can go in rigging the election while retaining the fiction that those who vote for it are fervent followers. Any further fraud and there is no telling.

For the opposition the problem is even worse: it never finishes to decide how rigged elections are and how truly necessary it is to participate. Part of the whopping abstention of two weeks ago comes  from idiots that actually think that not voting in Venezuela is actually an act of strength, not understanding that this is EXACTLY what the regime wants form them.

But the electoral problem cannot be defined only to the CNE, our electoral supervising agency which is nothing else but a Ministry for Electoral Reelection of non Democratic Elements, MERDE. The electoral problem of Venezuela resides also in the nature of the electorate.

The CNE problem is quite simple: the agency is there to create an electoral situation as favorable to the regime as possible. The list of crimes committed by the CNE is too long for a post but it goes from helping the creation of pariah voter lists (Tascon´s List) to turn a blind eye to any abuse of power of the regime and its usage of public monies for its campaigns.  There is no solution there: things will change only when the regime decides things must change. Tomorrow? In ten years?  Things will change only when the cost to the regime is higher than than its benefits from electoral fraud; or when the regime collapses on its own weight. Whichever comes first.

But I think that there are reasons enough to think that even a slightly more honest CNE could still yield positive results for the regime: the nature of the electorate.  I am going to pass on the "protest abstention" from the opposition which is now truly a shame. They protest and protest and yet to this point I have not read or heard from their part any viable option to change the regime. NONE.

What is more interesting to examine is the nature of the chavista electorate and then realize that change is very unlikely. Something by the way that the opposition leadership fails to realize, with some honorable exceptions.  Next a list of the chavista voter today:

  • The taliban commie Cuba trained chavista voter. There is no message that can reach them until they actually get booted out of office (or put aside by their colleagues) and start wondering as to the why they are in the gutter.
  • The "resentido", perhaps the largest group, is the one that supports chavismo from social resentment feeling. No matter how destitute or rich the resentido is, s/he still want to punish someone one for real or imaginary offenses. It is a psychological condition for which there is little to do. The strength of chavismo is based on that group as the political genius of Chavez has been to incorporate all the Venezuelan resentidos from different colors under his sole banner. That this may be creating slowly a new generation of resentidos inside the opposition files is not something that worries the regime.
  • The codependent is the group growing the most, the more so that it implies the support and acquiescence to that co-dependency by his or her entourage.  With a ruined economy, a lack of real jobs, more people than ever in Venezuela depend from a governmental stipend. It could be a membership to one of the social Mision; it could be a lousy or not so lousy bureaucratic position; it could be from some small government contract, corrupt or not, that keeps business afloat; etc.  Many in that group would willingly vote for an opposition offer but will not do because they cannot afford to do it, or are simply blackmailed, or even believe that the vote is not secret and the CNE will tell on them. 
  • The ignorant voter is also an electoral base, in particular outside of Caracas and its main centers.  Certainly in the three groups above there is very large portion of ignorant people who have no idea how the real world works outside, no matter how much cable TV they watch. What I am talking about here are the left over of society, those that were never reached by the pre Chavez area and that the regime skilfully recruited nurturing their ignorance or replacing it with prejudices and fake diplomas. I include in that group folks who learned to read through the use of bolivarian slogans together with those who got absolutely useless college degrees through the mickey mouse universities that the regime created graduating lawyers unable to write a decent bill of sale or doctors that can barely take blood pressure.  These people know that outside of the regime their make believe skills are worthless.

Thus the full extent of the Venezuelan electoral problem, which is compounded by one crude fact: we have never been a democratic country, even in the 1958 to 1998 period we did vote for a benign "dictator" that could do pretty much as he pleased, as we all knew that no matter how bad he was he was there for only 5 years.  The only democratic training we really had was when we finally started developing decentralization and have mayors and governors elected. This was in the late 80ies and did not last long enough to truly train us.  Chavez simply dealt with that by fudging the national budget and withholding the legal share that went to local authorities.  Thus we remain a country where a majority of the people, from both sides, believe that someone else, the president or the conspirator, is going to solve their problems. ¡El cacique, pues!


  1. charly10:48 PM

    From your reading, a nation hardly worth saving.

    1. Not necessarily. But to save it will require an effort like those deployed in Chile and Uruguay. I am not speaking of Argentina that has been lost since Peron and that still refuses to save itself. Then again they may not have oil but they had at least lots of cheap food.... thus I suppose there is a sick parallelism with Venezuela.

    2. charly3:51 AM

      You hit the nail right on the head Daniel. Venezuela and Argentiana have the means to go rent seeking. Chile (copper) and Uruguay (meat) to a lesser extent. That may be where the difference is. Thanks for a superb set of articles you have published recently. Hope you have saved your work since the beginning. Excerpts could in the future form a book, a witness record of a time not too dissimilar to the time Jean Cocteau labelled, "ces temps maudits".

  2. Anonymous11:12 PM

    i would also add that since we have had a stream of dollars backing our Bolivares' value it has been impossible to industrialize the nation. this has impeded the development of the private industry and middle class and thus creating the monstrous state these thugs now control and with it us as a pueblo. very complicated problem
    again brilliant article

    1. The nation could have been industrialized without any trouble, oil notwithstanding. The problem is that ALL Venezuelan governments, and the one since 1999 deserves the gold coconut award, have used public funds to generate political support the easy way by giving straight and asking back only that you help bring in the vote.

      As a matter of fact, under Chavez the little bit of industrialization and agriculture that had managed to develop in spite of all previous administration blunders was almost squelched. We cannot blame this on oil, we must put all the blame on the human factor, creeps that vote in lousy governments because they want quick fixes. IMO the only governments worth retrieving for the history books are those of Betancourt and Leoni.

  3. From what I've read of these blogs over the years, Daniel has nailed it once again. Venezuela will never understand democracy if you've never tasted it, or benefited from a government helping business grow, or helping farmers grow and market crops and receive a profit. Common people will not benefit from shopping for more than staples for food. What will it take for the people to see what is happening? Who knows, all they have to do is look at Cuba to get their answer!


    1. Speaking of which, I found this link on Setty's site. Great article about surviving in Cuba. Is this what Chavismo wants?

  4. Anonymous6:43 AM

    There are five requirements for prosperity. Personal freedom, democracy, rule of law, capitalism and private property. People can be persueded to set these requirements aside, a little bit at a time. Misery follows.

  5. First of all, chavez's revolution did not fare well among oppo mayors and governors. He probably felt he had no choice. Second, once Chavistas realize the revolution is bankrupt, what are their choices, loyalty or whatever?


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