After years of covering in detail Venezuelan elections I would be remiss not to mention last Sunday regional "elections" in Venezuela. Then again, as I put in a tweet, the same day Chilean elections seemed more important to follow. At least for me.
Once upon a time, say before 2015, one could still find enough information, enough semi reliable data to look for trends in Venezuelan voting results. I did not do too bad in my analysis predictions. But after the debacle of 2015 the regime made sure no vote meant anything anymore. I am not going to go into tiresome details. Remember, they are mostly pre electoral fraud, from happily banning candidates the regime dislikes to go all out and take over political parties. Amen of all the treachery in voter registration, excessive use of state means for chavista campaign, etc, etc. On election day you keep having all the unfair interventions from the army forcing people to vote, holding results, etc, etc.
All very commie banana republic.
Thus since 2015 I stopped wasting time in electoral analysis. The more so that in addition to the great heights in election treachery we have a large abstention movement and probably up to 4 million Venezuelan voters in exile, and thus with no option.
This being said, there are a few details worth commenting.
First, there was after many years the return of serious electoral observers. Namely proven and tested teams. There are only three sources of reliable electoral observation today: teams set up by the UN, the OAS or EU. Some countries I suppose would also do serious electoral observation, democratic countries like Japan or Canada. Maybe even the Carter Center. But that is all, and certainly not the countries that the regime invited previously for what is at best electoral tourism (Russia or Bolivia, for example).
Why did the regime accepted the European Union to send an observing team? This is the question, the more so that as expected the preliminary report under diplomatic language indicated that the vote of last Sunday was shit. I suppose that the regime having survived three years of sanctions and pressures and general exhaustion about Venezuela assumed that the world would recognize Maduro if this one held semi palatable elections with a selected few handouts to the opposition, preferably to the opposition that it has tried to build through payoffs. Well, if that was the reason, it did not work out.
Another reason is the need for the regime to reach some form of agreement with the US so that some sanctions are lifted. But the regime, to begin with, is incapable of seriousness when it is negotiation time. Whether the regime offers decent elections is not really an issue there, though it could help. But as the scorpion crossing the stream on the back of the toad, the regime cannot help itself and it will sabotage any opening, be it formal negotiations or semi fair elections.
This new PR failure behind us, what else can we rescue from last Sunday? As expected the regime won handily but not that great. Abstention was here and with a copious dose of opposition division it still lost on the total vote but carried all states but 3, while loosing a bunch of town halls. In fact that townhall fall back should be worrisome for the regime: for once the regime did better in big cities than in the country side towns where the opposition struck a few interesting wins. The provinces, apparently, are starting to be tired of being taken for granted.
Thus, in spite of all the treachery, the regime vote count keeps sliding down, fast enough that it cannot be hidden.
What else is worth noting? The opposition division. This one is basically 4 fold, believe it or not.
First, the 4 million + overseas. Where would those go were presidential elections carried tomorrow?
Second, the chronic abstention. Their number look good if you count in the 4 million abroad. But the fact of the matter is that some are starting to vote again. Why? Because the abstention promoters offer nothing in exchange, and people want solutions, not speeches on morality.
In third we have the pro Chavez opposition. Those are a set of individuals that came from the opposition but decided to try to reach political deals with the regime. All for naught of course, nobody is fooled. In last year parliamentary election the regime had to fudge some dubious vote count to make sure a handful of them would get elected! But they are very useful for the opposition in a way I am surprised people do not talk about. Last week they got more votes than what we could have expected. Me thinks that many chavistas voted for them as a protest vote against Maduro! And remember: when you have been attached for two decades to a political idea, the first vote against is the more difficult; it gets easier after. And those fake opposition parties are a good stepping stone for transitioning.
Finally we have the remains of the real opposition, those that did jail, were tortured, are in exile, whatever. They did not do too good, though they took 1/6 of townhalls and two states. That is, a little bit more than last time and in spite of abstention exile and divisions. For better or for worse, the so called G4 remains the true opposition and is still recognized as such after last Sunday show.
That is all. We'll see what's next.