They bark, Sancho... (Updated)

For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time an obscure, hard-to-understand decision by the opposition unleashed the torrent of invective that has been foaming from the mouths of Hugo Chávez and his henchwomen.

Because, if you stop to think about it, the decision by the opposition’s umbrella group the Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) to have a “unity” card alongside the card of all the parties is really not that consequential.

The problem facing the MUD was how the unity candidate was going to appear in the ballot.

The MUD is comprised of dozens of political parties, some large, some small. The unity candidate would presumably appear in all the party cards, and the voter would choose to vote for the person by clicking on the party of his or her choice. All the votes for that person would be added together, no matter which party they came from, but the final breakdown would show which party has more support.

Obviously, the smaller parties, particularly those that are simply outfits for a single leader, balked at the possibility that their party would come out with just a few dozen votes.

So the MUD decided to have a “MUD” ticket alongside the party tickets. A middle-of-the-road approach if there ever was one.

Chavismo, however, is livid. Cilia Flores called it a sign that they politicians in the MUD are “constantly knifing themselves.” Nicolás Maduro warned that all they really want “are the riches of the State.” (Funny, what happened to the riches of the people?). DIosdado Cabello called the opposition “useless.” And Hugo Chávez himself, in a rare comment on the opposition’s strategies, called it “a swindle.”

The public must be wondering what all the commotion is about.

To me, the only reason for all of this much-ado-about-nothing is that the MUD is slowly achieving something few of us thought possible: the resurrection of the opposition brand. Poll after poll is showing that the public is looking at the opposition’s unity efforts with ever-improving sympathies.

We’re not there yet, but we’re not in the basement we were at in 2006.

Like in the lesson taught to us by Cervantes’ immortal quote, the extra attention Aveledo and his pals are getting is a sure sign they’re doing something right.

Update: Frequent guest on this site loroferoz makes an excellent point: the “unity” ticket is bait for Ni-nis, who want to vote for the opposition but feel queasy giving their votes to the political parties. Listen to the bird…

“You forgot an important detail, a flash of the glaringly obvious: If you vote MUD Unity ticket, you are actually not voting any one for these parties or their leaders. You are voting the National Unity candidate proposed by the MUD.

The message is not lost on ni-nis, repentant chavistas, and the opposition-minded (like me) who don’t identify with any of the aforementioned parties. It’s also a powerful message for all the single parties in the MUD and for all the overbearing “personalities” and “leaders” in the MUD. In a sense it’s a victory for common interest in restoring the republic and democratic representation vs. the power aspirations (successfully lampooned by chavismo) of individual MUD leaders.

Should the unity ticket be the majority option in 2012, the mandate is clear. Out with the divisive, sectary and imcompetent. In with unity and inclusion.

Hugo Chavez and henchmen are usually fierce on anything they fear. And they should. How are they going to attack a candidate for all the democratic opposition? The general feeling is that Hugo Chavez should go in 2012. That a return to the past is unthinkable. That giving power back to the old partidocracia is unconceivable.

If I get to vote (residing outside Venezuela 🙁 ) I will vote that ticket.”