More and more, I have the sense CNE is playing the opposition like a fiddle. Today’s concession, agreeing not to use finger-print scanners on December 4th, looks very much like another carefully calibrated move to fulfill CNE’s twin goals of providing international electoral legitimacy to an autocratic regime while dividing and demobilizing the opposition.
The tactical retreat on the finger-print scanners makes perfect sense in the context of this two-pronged strategy. There was a real threat of Opposition parties withdrawing en masse from Sunday’s vote given last week’s finger-print scanning debacle and Zulia governor Manuel Rosales’s ultimatum on pulling out of the election if the finger-print scanners were left in place. An election without the Opposition is not much use for international legitimation. CNE needs the parties to play ball if it wants chavismo to keep the “democratically elected” label, and if it needs to throw the finger-print scanners into the pyre to achieve that, it’s more than willing to do so.
But the retreat was also partial, and certain to rekindle the near civil-war between opposition participationists and abstentionists. For every Blyde arguing that there are now enough safeguards to vote, there’ll be a Toro pointing to the farcical “hot” audit as a reason not to. Prolonguing the internal squabbling in the Opposition works brilliantly to achieve CNE’s other goal: keeping the opposition divided and demobilized.
Does anyone else have a feeling that José Vicente Rangel is behind all this? I don’t have any proof, just a vague feeling that only JVR is quite smart and macchiavelian enough to think up something like this…