Losing Parapara

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Lost in the news of the torrential rains soaking our country, some Venezuelans went to the polls yesterday in a Special Election to elect two of the country’s governors and 11 mayors.

The noteworthy result for the opposition is that our candidates were elected Governor of Amazonas, our country’s largest state (by area), and mayor of Maracaibo, our second-largest and most vergatarian city. But there are reasons for concern too: we got pummelled in some rural races, losing by an even bigger margin than usual.

The Amazons result was a squeaker, with the opposition candidate and incumbent governor, PPT’s Liborio Guarulla winning about 51.2% of the vote. In Maracaibo, the story was different, as Eveling Trejo, the wife of the exiled mayor Manuel Rosales, obliterated former mayor Giancarlo Di Martino with 58.7% of the vote. She also won herself a snarky little article from the local chavista daily Panorama.

The opposition also won three other mayoral elections: Coloncito (Táchira), La Asunción (Nueva Esparta), and Carrizal (Miranda). Chavismo won the other 7 mayoral elections, and the governorship of Guárico.

So all in all, a good result for the opposition, right? No major surprises, since a comfortable opposition win in Maracaibo was expected.

Yet the number that jumped at me was the election for Guárico’s governor. The chavista candidate, Luis Gallardo, won there with a whopping 77.6% of the vote.

You might be tempted to discard this result as Guárico has been a deep red state for years. The incumbent governor, chavista bigwig Willian Lara, died in a car accident while campaigning, so there could have been a sentimental factor to the vote. And it’s hard to draw major inferences from special elections anyway, where turnout is always atypical.

Still, there’s no hiding the fact that chavismo’s percentage is way higher than its margin last September, when they pulled in 58% of the vote and the combined tally of AD and PPT in the list vote reached 40%.

The unity candidacy in Guárico was negotiated for months, and in the end, the AD candidate, Carlos Prosperi, was anointed standard-bearer, with the reluctant support of the other candidate, the PPT mayor of San Juan de los Morros. More importantly, the PPT itself refused to endorse Prosperi.

Whether this division was a factor in the election is anyone’s guess.

A while ago I wrote a post about the opposition’s need to reach beyond its urban core and make inroads in rural places, using as an example our dismal results in places like Parapara, which coincidentally is in Guárico.

Sadly, going from about 40% of the vote in September to a miserly 23% of the vote in December is a major step backwards. The electoral math for 2012 just doesn’t work if we keep losing rural races by those kinds of margins.

Guys, you’re going the wrong way! Parapara is that way.

1 COMMENT

  1. Bolívar is much larger than Amazonas. We lost Bolívar because PJ did not want to admit Andrés Velázquez was the most popular candidate. We lost Valencia because Salas did not want to recognize the candidate of the other party was more popular. And it seems we lost Miranda in part because the Cuentas Claras candidate did not get support from the local oppo feud lord.

    As for Guárico: it seems the candidate Chavistas chose had a relatively good curriculum for Llanero standards. The opposition in the Llanos is stuck with Paleolithic adecos with no ideas and the charisma of bosta de ganado.
    And they are left alone, no logistical support from people who should know better.

    • Not to mention that Guerrana, the PPT guy, is mayor of San Juan de los Morros and, undoubtedly, has a superior get-out-the-vote operation in the state’s biggest urban center. Prosperi, on the other hand…

      Still, I’m hesitant to make a huge deal out of Guarico, since we never really had a shot at winning there. It’s the margin that I’m worried about.

    • Well, Guárico is not like everything. Still, we need to pay more attention. A significant amount of people who live in coast states and are voting for PSUV still have a very direct link to the Llanos. Only if we make sustainable advances in the Llanos as well, at least to minimize differences, will we be able to get rid of Chavez in 2012. We have to have not 52% of the votes, not 53%, not 55%. Chavez will cheat, the CNE will see to that, as long as we do not have but a tiny fraction of witnesses in those states.

      This is the issue: oppo parties are dividing the “spheres of influences” as in the Middle Ages and that won’t work in Venezuela. You cannot just let AD “do the Llanos, PJ do Miranda, the Duke of Carabobo do Carabobo, COPEI ‘Popular’ do Táchira, UNT do Zulia. You can’t.
      AD cannot deliver in the Llanos.Most of those guys are really very Paleo and they do not even have the fake or unfake vision Adecos had in the forties and sixties in the countryside. They just think in terms of “govern better” while Chavista honchos there 1) have more petrodollars than what any government has had for decades and 2) know how to tell tales about “desarrollo endógeno”, even if it is crap and it is desarrollo endógeno pa la casa de ellos, pa’l hijo y pa’l cuñado.

      We fucking need to present people who can talk about vision, who are creative when it comes to how to move around and talk to people and who are neither a baby like the candidate for governor in Delta Amacuro in September nor a guy who was already a candidate for AD in the seventies.

  2. JC

    I have not gone into details for Guarico as I think there are other factors at stake which I am not informed enough to be sure about.

    The Manuitt tenure was caciquismo of the worst kind and it seems that Guarico like llanero states are sensible, and like, that type of rule.

    I also think that the coming victory of PSUV certainly demobilize the opposition electorate. If to this you add a PTT ni chicha ni limonada and resentful of losing their lone bastion of significance you can understand the margin.

    I am afraid that the honeymoon between PPT and Falcon might be coming to an end as the PPT is desperate to recover jobs with Chavez and really do not care about anything but their paycheck, ready to grovel whatever it takes to get back with Chavez. Maybe handling Guarico to Chaevz was a way to ask for forgiveness? I do not put that past them.

    Still, the margin in Guarico is worrisome, I agree with you, even if I think it might be accidental (AD overplayed its hand there also)

    • But what about Guarulla? Will the PPT ditch both Falcon *and* Guarulla? This is key, since Guarulla controls the two PPT deputies that would give Chavez the necessary majority to rule by decree.

      I’m OK if the PPT goes back into Chavez’s arms, as long as Falcon and Guarulla stay on our side. And it could be argued that Guarulla owes his re-election to the MUD, given how tight his margin was.

      Funny how important the local politics in Amazonas have become…

  3. JC

    If anyone doubts that Panorama is blatantly pro Chavez, that article you mention should settle the matter. Not even El Nacional would try to tarnish a PSUV candidate in such a situation! You almost get the feeling that DiMartino won but somehow his victory was robbed by some zeitgeist. Unbelievable!

    • Yeah, I couldn’t let that one slip. Andres Izarra has a doppelganger working his keyboard silly over at the Panorama headquarters.

  4. OK, we got our ass kicked badly in Guárico, but the reasons for that result are too idiosyncratic that transcends any simplification. Your losing Parapara analysis is missing the big picture. Comparing with 26S results, even losing, we made tremendous inroads in three rural municipalities: Nirgua, Achaguas and Yumare, and made more modest gains in two more: Miranda (Carabobo) and Boconó. We only lost some ground in Miranda (Trujillo) and Los Puertos de Altagracia. So the balance is positive in terms of the Parapara analysis, or maybe I´m a half-full type of guy.

    • Omar

      There is no inroad in Nirgua. The PSUV candidate, Capella, was an ex mayor, pre Chavez, who went on the the national assembly being the only “independent” elected in 2005 even though he was running for Chavez. That is, the MRV did not give him the nod but he run anyway and was elected (he defeated then the guy who is now Yaracuy governor). He was careful to toe the line in Caracas and was even given some work in some commissions. But he probably realized that 1) he would not get the nod in 2010 and 2) that working under the orders of Chavez was not fun. So he went back to Nirgua where he was reelected with the numbers he used to get.

      As for Yumare. It is an agricultural region of some prosperity and all sizes of farm. It is unusual in its composition that chavismo has never been there overwhelming as it was elsewhere. And with these heavy rains believe it or not abstention probably favored the opposition. Inroads there are questionable at best.

      In Achaguas I do not know but I suspect that past visits by Leopoldo are starting to show some effect.

      That is, the election settles nothing, does not tells us if chavismo keeps sinking or if the MUD is making good of its September results. In other words like most special elections it is dangerous to read a trend there. I would even go and say that considering that in Maracaibo Eveling did not reach the 60% might be a bad sign!

    • I dunno, Daniel. In Nirgua, the fact that the oppo pulled out 1090 more votes (5% of the valid electorate) even in a higher-than-26S abstention scenary sounds like an inroad for me. Oppo went fro 41% to 47.4% of the share there.
      In Yumare is even more impressive, Oppo pulled out 1347 more votes (18% of the total votes), from 32% to 47%, and rougly speaking abstention went down in Yumare!.
      In Achaguas we gained 10% and abstention was the same that the 26S.

    • Well, in the Bocono data, I was counting the PSUV vs non-PSUV. On 26-S, PSUV, got 69.66%, yesterday they got 71.03%. But there are these other tiny parties that got votes on 26-S and could well be chavista (MIR-200?? Opina??).

    • Yikes, we’re really splitting hairs here. OK, anyone who cites something called the “Nagel Doctrine” has earned my respect, so I defer to your calculations.

  5. The opposition can win without the rural areas of the non-oppo states. Parapara is not the way. More organization and get-out-the-vote efforts in the city areas is the way. Once in Miraflores, the rural areas may follow the way of the winner and the opposition might be in a better position to consolidate its rule there.

    • No, we need to win more there. It is not just a matter of counting the votes now. It is a matter of reducing the potential for a civil war, it is also a fact Chavismo will cheat more. They just do it as allowed.

      It won’t be enough to win by 52% of the votes, as Lucena knows.
      The space for cheating in the rural states and thus of “chavista” optimization is still big enough to make up for the 2%. As esdata people said, we only have a fraction of the actas outside Greater-Caracas-Valencia-Maracaibo.

  6. I’m not again increasing monitoring and organizational efforts in the rural areas. I just think efforts to get organized and seek votes there are not, and should not, be a priority for the opposition. The opposition has to play to its strengths. I am discounting the possibility of civil war, which I consider unlikely.

  7. We do not need to win in Parapara, we need to manage to close the gap as we did in Nirgua, Achaguas or Yumare. If we do that, we can pull it out in December 2010.

  8. Guarico is an interesting case, if you look at it closely. Carlos M. Prosperi (who’s not a paleo-adeco; he’s 35 or 40… And, still, this is Guarico), saw the party vote diminish in half for AD and dwindle for almost any other party (PPT, PJ (which went from 10000 votes -26s- to 740 votes), Copei…).

    AD was not “given” Guarico, but perhaps the GOTV efforts from the local parties went bust as they did not see much particular gains in this particular race… Moreover, take into account the rain and the fact that San Juan de Los Morros’ politicos were self-defeating, and that’s the story. The PSUV machine also had problems in Guarico, but obviously they were not nearly as catastrophic, and Luis Gallardo was more of a llanero than the late William Lara…

    Deeply, though, what it showed is that the MUD(+PPT) alliance is still not ingrained in the minds of many local party leaders. Which goes to show how much leadership do National Parties have over its regional chapters… This IS a concern for local elections, but not necessarily a huge issue in a national election -if the eventual candidato or candidata can convince the parties that it will govern with the coalition… Given the size of the State’s national bureaucracy -even in Pre-Chavez numbers, that might not be so hard)…

    Moreover, Guarulla’s victory was crucial (the MVR-PSUV had given him a hefty percentage of the vote in previous ocasions, so he now owes the MUD; had he lost, we would almost have inmediately lost the Amazonas diputados…).

    Since we lost Nirgua in a squeaker, -which is still disputed, albeit administratively-, we won one governorship and two capital city elections, and we were almost head to head in the “popular vote”, I’ll draw this as another maddening tie. Guarico, however, is still a cause for concern…

    • Nice analysis, GTAvex. I’ve been hearing that some of the MUD parties secretely boicoted Prosperi’s election, just to deliver a lesson to HRA and his stubborness. I guess PJ vote is a reflection of that…

  9. En maracaibo, a parte de la abstención normal, hubo otra, propiciada por los supuestos lideres de base de primero justicia, quienes se encargaron de invitar a la gente a no votar por el supuesto nepotismo de UNT, todos nos dimos cuenta de eso, a todos nos llegaron sus cadenas… y ya todos sabemos como juega ese partido, con sus dirigentes comiendo cámara al lado de eveling, y sus “filas” llamando a no votar.
    Ya sabemos de que lado están, solo espero que se quiten la careta y se vayan pal oficialismo de una vez, pues, fue a ellos a los que les hicieron el favor.
    De todas formas se gano, y se gano cómodo… lastima q gracias a esos sifrinitos resentidos de primero justicia, el oficialismo logro avances en el municipio.

    • como que ya te dieron el carguito ahi de moderador?

      pues, ahí están los numeros, PJ saco solo 3.000 votos, de los 19.000 que saco el 26S…

      y no vengan con que votaron por el tarjeton de UNT por que esa gente, los de PJ en maracaibo, primero votan por el psuv que por la tarjeta de un nuevo tiempo.

      que se decidan, o están con la unidad, o están haciendo oposición en el zulia junto con el psuv.

      pd: no se por que te asombra el articulo de panorama, peores cosas dijiste tu de eveling.

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