Count me in those who still doubt that there will be elections on December 6. I cannot see the regime going through elections unless it is certain that the opposition will not get more than 90 seats (about 55%). With that number it should not be too difficult for the regime to lure away enough opposition representatives to recover a weak majority within a year or two. Considering the complete control over everything else, the regime thinks that this is the worst case scenario they are willing to accept.
Unfortunately all polls indicate that 90 may actually be the opposition floor and that in spite of everything the opposition could reach 100 seats (about 61%). That number still far from the needed 66% majority to change things in the country is still high enough that the National Assembly could exert some controls and launch some damaging investigations. Investigations that of course the regime cannot tolerate, nor dodge. What is worse for the regime is that if the opposition gets 100 or more seats then it is not that unlikely for some chavista to defect to the opposition side if the parliamentary investigations become too spicy. After all Venezuelan politicians are not known for their admirable qualities of sinking with the ship. Their attitude is rather murine.
That increasing desperation inside the regime who justifiably fears for its privileges is sensed more and more. If the sentence on Lopez was a clear salvo, other words are equally telling.
For example the other day nobody less but Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores, said that all of the opposition was suspect of plotting against the regime. She did not nuance much, for her there is no one worth discussing on the other side of the isle. Certainly Cilia being one of the worst offenders as far as nepotism is concerned knows for sure that her shenanigans would not be funded anymore under a new management. This is not a matter of fear for her, she is way too amoral for having such feelings, but rather mere technical points to keep her extended brood on tenure. For people like Cilia, the others simply want her job to cash in.
Her husband Nicolas goes further. He is now seeing conspiracy when people discuss among themselves the Venezuelan economic disaster and speculate how big would a rescue package be. Since Maduro is too dumb to understand, and worse, too unwilling to learn how the real world functions, then these people discussing serious matters are mere conspirators. That is why Lorenzo Mendoza is under threat of jail for having a phone call to Ricardo Hausman tapped illegally. I am quite certain that Maduro knows the risks in jailing Mendoza but if this can stop the election he may well be willing to take that risk. Soon attending a mere campaign meeting will be an act of conspiracy.
Of course, there are the constant and multiple insults from the chavista riffraff but I will spare you that. It will be enough with these two examples coming from the very top of the state to figure out what goes on under.
What is more interesting here, when you read the variety and quality of insults, is that it seems that there is a deep divide inside chavismo as to the election. Granted, all agree on maximum abuse against the opposition making this campaign already the worst in chavista history, a campaign that should have already been condemned internationally as it is.
On one side you have people like Maduro who is on record, as president of the nation, saying that the regime has to win the election at any cost, and that if that did not happen well, let's go and hit the streets and refuse recognition. We even have cute and ridiculous scenes where the regime offers a document that all parts should sign to recognize the result when that document was not discussed by anyone. And then of course attack the opposition as warmongers for not signing it.
On the other side you have a relative silence from the army and from some of the regime operators who abound in attacks against the opposition but try not to go overboard with these. It is all a matter of degree in histrionics.
My interpretation is that there are people like Maduro and Flores who are ready to suspend elections that they cannot win. Period. Come what may. On the other side there are chavistas that think not holding elections could be worse than losing them. They certainly cannot be vocal about it inside a regime permeated with spies all around. I would dare to go as far as putting Diosdado Cabello in that group. Why are these people willing to contemplate a loss? The Sandinista experience is a good piece of data. When they left Violeta Chamorro win they burdened the opposition with the management of the crisis they had left behind, and later they helped create a major division inside the opposition that allowed for their return. And now a divided opposition and Chavez cash have consolidated Sandinismo tenure in ways guns could never manage. Note: Sandinistas always kept control of the army.
Also, for chavismo who lacks an Evita, a little bit of opposition epic like Peronism had in Argentina could be of great help long run.
I the end, besides the army, what will decide whether elections are held, how much fraud is applied, what result is accepted, will be the result of the inner battle within chavismo. The battle is between those that want to null elections and those that are willing to take a risk. In the end, what is really at stake here is which group from chavismo will get its hands on the remaining riches, as those may be. The opposition is a mere distraction in that battle.