Welcome to the sausage factory

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Katy says: – I’ve avoided posting about the opposition lately. We are approaching the moment when we will see if the bone of grand statements about unity will have some meat to it. The process is bound to get uglier as the date nears. My first inclination is to wait until all this has been sorted out, but several readers have asked me to address the issue, so here goes.

Right now, what’s happening in the opposition is like a weird, dysfunctional mating dance. Positions are staked out, things are said, principles are laid out, threats of consequences are carelessly uttered.

It’s tempting to see Leopoldo’s latest fights with Liliana, or Manuel’s feud with Julio, and give up hope on the opposition. I think that’s a mistake, at least at this juncture.

Forming a coalition can be messy. It involves negotiating with people who do not have your best interests in their mind and, sometimes, the country’s best interests don’t even figure. What is said today is ignored tomorrow, and today’s enemy will be my top supporter tomorrow.

Venezuela’s opposition coalition has particular problems. Not only are voters demanding unity, they are demanding it from folks who disagree on crucial issues: the merits of the IVth Republic, the electoral conditions, the recall Referendum, political ideology. The fact that they are even on speaking terms with one another is cause enough to see the glass half full.

Messy is how politics are when there you don’t have a single person leading and deciding what to do. All succesful, diverse coalitions go through these same things, whether it’s political coalitions like Chile’s Concertación or even coalitions of countries such as the European Union. At the end of the day, I think that unity positions will be agreed upon in most of the places where it matters.

We tend to make a lot of noise about how in Chacao there are more candidates than voters, or how there is no clear strategy about what to do with the people whose political rights were taken away from them unfairly. Ultimately, I still see the parties committed to unity and few people questioning the agreed-upon method of consulting opinion polls to decide who to run where.

So, in the meantime, let’s not make too much of the day-to-day bashing or the threats of disunity. From what I have seen, there are no serious threats to opposition unity in the horizon, and opposition politicians, despite what you may think, are clear about the real stakes in this election. I would suggest sitting back and waiting for them to meet in smoke-filled rooms and sort all this out.

Sausages are delicious, but you don’t want to know much about how they are made. Right now, we’re in the process of making sausages. It ain’t pretty, but let’s hope it’s effective in the end.

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