Clear as MUD


 "Chamo, lets do an Oswaldo Álvarez Paz week…I mean, why not? It’s Semana Santa, there aren’t going to be any other news…"

                -Quico to Juan, not 48 hours ago

The "carefully" "constructed" "agreement" built up around Opposition nominations at the Opposition’s Unity Table (Mesa de Unidad Democrática – MUD) appear to be in danger of falling apart completely. This comes after Primero Justicia youth leader Yon Goicoechea cried bloody murder yesterday when it became clear the party’s leadership was ready to throw him under the bus for the sake of "unity" – which is just a byword for justifying the handing of the appalling AD dinosaur Alfonso Marquina a nomination to the safe seat in the Miranda Highlands.

Goicoechea, who is young, photogenic, articulate, and a born candidate, is far, far ahead of Marquina in the polls. It’s hardly a surprise he wasn’t going to take a backroom deal to shut him out sitting down.

The second the writing on the wall was clear, he held a firey press conference where he demanded his chance to go to a primary, all the while being careful not to threaten an independent run. Soon, Primero Justicia’s national leadership (aka Julio Borges) was trying to tut-tut Goicoechea without provoking him, but by the next day PJ’s own governor of Miranda State, Henrique Capriles, was asking for primaries all over his state. 

It’s easy to guess what happens next: EVERYBODY in a situation like Goicoechea’s all over the country is going to demand primaries. Now. Four months before an election. When there’s no time to organize them. 

What happens when they don’t get them? Do they storm off and start their own unity table?

What we’re dealing with here is an extremely flimsy sweater – it doesn’t take much yanking on loose threads to unravel the whole thing.

Of course, this being OAP week, I have to note that what’s happening here is the mirror image of what sunk Álvarez Paz in 1993. Back then, they did hold a primaries, but the commitment to support the primary winner was weak: Caldera bolted, and the rest is history.

This year, the MUD’s convoluted formula for deciding where to hold a primary and where to fill a room with smoke and talk it out, was unstable from the beginning. It was obvious that the combination of the D’Hondt method to carve up nominations between parties and vague language about "natural local leaders" would lead to some scenarios where a clear local leader with a massive polling lead would be asked to step aside to satisfy the D’Hondt distribution. The two standards were bound to collide sooner or later. The scenario we’re in now was eminently predictable all along.

In true Venezuelan style, they’re colliding at the last possible minute, in full view of everybody, and threatening to configure an own-goal of paroesque dimensions.

Ay. Pa. Pá.