Tone-deaf chronicles


I hate to continue barking at the shenanigans of the opposition’s old guard, but they make it so difficult!

This weekend, we had a double-whammy of bone-headed ideas from two of the figureheads of yester-yore, Manuel Rosales and Henrique Salas Römer.

First off, Rosales.

His party, Un Nuevo Tiempo, one of the opposition’s most important, just announced that they are suggesting his name to be the opposition’s standard-bearer in next year’s elections.

Never mind that he’s in exile, living in Peru. Never mind that in the last election, he got a whopping 36.9% of the vote. Oh, and never mind that UNT is also proposing Zulia governor Pablo Pérez as a candidate.

Nothing yells “unity” and “competence” more than a major political party suggesting two different people as candidates, both maracuchos, one of them conducting his campaign via Blackberry.

Then there is Salas Römer. The opposition’s 1998 candidate, who captured an underwhelming 39% of the vote, thinks the best thing would be for the opposition to select its candidate … in July of 2012.

Yes, folks. Salas Römer’s idea would give the opposition candidate a good four months to get voters to know him.

Never mind that Hugo Chávez’s re-election campaign is already under way. Salas Römer seems to think that the best answer to that is to … not have a candidate at all until the very last minute! Y’know,  ’cause that worked out so well the last time!

The old guard never fails to disappoint.

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  1. A party divided does not deserve our confidence. Poor Pablo. The internal divisions are going to erode what should be a relentless focus on opposing the government.

  2. Well the Democrats and Republicans hold their primaries rather late, but then again, those are parties with well established bases and vast political machines that churn out big votes, so the comparison is probably not very valid anyway.

    Conversely, the more time the opposition has to prepare its candidate the more time Chavez has to attack him/her and discredit his opponent. What’s the optimal time-frame here?

    • I think it’s obvious that July of 2012 is too late. One of the main problems of the Rosales candidacy is that he didn’t have enough time for people to get to know him. You’d think we would have learned that lesson …

      And as for Chavez attacking the opposition – he’s already doing it! He’s already hard at work defining all his potential rivals. And he’s going to do it anyway.

      It’s really a slam dunk.

      • Okay but seriously do you really think Rosales lost because he didn’t have enough time for people to get to know him?

        I mean when the guy speaks he sounds like he has about a sixth grade education. And his political ideas were just silly. Mi Negra? No one was buying that…

        I think if anything Rosales probably benefited from the fact that people didn’t actually get to know him very well.

  3. Come one! What are you guys complaining about, last time there were not even primaries. Maybe by the time Chavez leaves in 2032 (add two for the Constituent Assembly in 2012) they would have figured out democracy is a good thing.

  4. First of all, choosing someone early give Hugo lots of time to find a reason to put him in prison.

    Second of all, with things falling apart, why clutter the news echo chambers with a campaign that might distract people from the horror of reelecting Chavez!

  5. Mr. Salas and Mr. Rosales, who probably have done more to stop Chavez from winning that presidency than any other Venezuelan, deserve a little more credit than this.

    Salas suggests, in an old political-marketing adage, that a short campaign is a good campaign. Naturally, there might be probles with his mental schedule of the coming -ongoing/developing- campaign, and the fact that there’s a difference between selecting that candidate and actually running a campaign. Do not fret: If the MUD should choose to follow Mr. Sala’s advide, any candidate selected by national primaries would have been campaigning for over a year before he becomes the official candidate of the opposition, so he would have already toured the country and all that.

    As for Mr. Rosales, I guess his is a face-saving gambit. There’s an unlikely chance that he’ll repeat as candidate, even though he’s probably far more experienced for that role. Rosales wasn’t only a pretty good candidate -alas, short of time and fighting an electoral Behemoth, during the golde years of the Bolivarian revolution-, he gave the opposition a new geist.

    Do I agree with either of them? No. Am I disappointed? No, why should I be?

    Ultimately, the date of the primaries and the actual rules for them will be agreed upon by the lot of the opposition (no party or ideological alliance can, excluding any of the big parties or a group of small parties, decide alone), and even then the primaries would have to take place. So Mr. Rosales’ bid and Mr. Salas’ schedule are very much out of their reach.

    As for the notion that “if we have a candidate now, he will become “inhabilitado””, the opposition is well aware of that risk. That has not kept it from actually getting candidates on the ballot (we do have an embarrasment of riches on that front) and ultimately winning (see “Ledezma, Antonio”). Moreover, if we have a recognisable opposition figure for the Venezuelan and World public opinion to see, and he gets jailed/indicted/barred from running, it might further our political crisis.

    • GTAvex – a short campaign is a good campaign? Where did you get that from – the Manuel Rosales Manual for Losing Elections by more than 20 points?

      Let’s face the facts, folks. We are running against a guy who has all the media at his disposal. We need time to get our message across directly to the people, and we need time for people to get to know our candidate. Short campaigns may work if everyone has a level playing field. That’s not our case.

      In fact, you say it yourself – after all, in your same comment you are saying Rosales needed more time!

      • Juan Cristóbal

        I’m saying Salas says so. I do not agree with his logic, but I do not see it as a cause for concern: the candidate that ultimately gets selected as the Unidad’s choice, winning the primarias, would surely have already toured the country. The campaign is already starting, in any case, for many of them.

        Should that candidate, if he’s mayor or governor, quit during the long campaign? Who would he leave behind? Etc., etc. …

        The point of the matter is that the post is just another way of trying to frame isolated opinions from two opposition figures as if they represented the mainstream current within the opposition, or even the so-called old guard.

        I see nary a post about Petkoff’s or Aveledo’s adamant defense of the primaries… Petkoff even promoted the Tarjeta Única yesterday.

        • I’m not framing it as the mainstream opinion. I don’t know what the mainstream opinion is. What I’m trying to do is my very best to prevent these crazy ideas from becoming mainstream.

          I also think it’s misguided to suggest that it doesn’t matter when the primary will be, because by then the candidates would have toured the country already. Primaries are notoriously messy, dirty, and the message gets diluted with each opposition candidate wanting to place themselves as the most this or that. A unity candidate needs time to, well, cement the unity.

          So yeah, it does matter *a lot* when the primary is, and the later they hold it, the worse off we’ll be. I, for one, will do all I can to push for a 2011 primary, the earliest the better.

          There’s a post on Petkoff by Quico, btw.

  6. And there am I who do not believe the opposition should launch a candidate to be a standard president but a candidate to be a president that hands over his powers to a “Junta de Gobierno”, in which representatives of the oficialismo would also have a place… since otherwise the victory could in an ensuing chaos easily turn out to be pyrrhic even to such an extent that there could be call for someone to come back… “por favor vuelva”. Was there no lesson in April 2002?

  7. In my opinion a primary in November 2011 would give the opposition candidate 1 year to work on his ideas & present them to the pueblo.

    It better be someone charismatic, photogenic & telegenic to appeal to the uneducated & unsophisticated masses because ideas alone will not beat Chavez.

    The thought of a Rosales leaves me cold.

  8. Four months should be plenty of time for a candidate to present himself to the voters. In most parliamentary states, an entire election cycle, from announcement of the election to the seating of the new assembly, takes less than two months.

    Yes, “the playing field is tilted”. That’s orthogonal to the length of the campaign. ISTM that a long campaign favors the government. They have effectively unlimited resources. Their workers don’t have to earn a living. They don’t have to pay for advertising. The longer the campaign, the more these advantages work for them.

    The opposition will have to ride a surge of enthusiasm, and surges don’t last six months to a year.

    And also, the greater the opportunity for the regime to use the law against opposing candidates.

    A final point: the longer the interval from nomination to election, the greater the opportunity to commit some faux pas that wrecks the campaign.


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