The unity fetish is almost making Capriles inevitable

I took a few days off to visit some relatives in the Chilean Patagonia. While I was there, I caught a glimpse of Pablo Pérez’s interview with Ismael Cala on CNN En Español.

I hadn’t listened to Pérez at length much, and one of the things that most struck me is that Pablo and Leopoldo … are desperate for a game changer. They are in dire need of something to subvert the established order, by which they are stuck in the teens or the twenties, and Henrique is comfortably ahead.

But the political dynamic is not conducive to this. Unity is rewarded above anything else. Any attempt at internal dissent, even one as timid as Carlos Ocaríz’s the other day, is immediately punished.

Can’t we all just … get along? Apparently, that’s all we are allowed to do.

This is a huge problem for the second- and third-place guys, because they are basically prevented from answering the one question that can begin to change the numbers: how are you different from Capriles?

If we are all going to be united, if there are no meaningful policy differences between the candidates, if I am effectively muzzled from drawing a sharp distinction between myself and the guy on top … then how can I convince voters to reconsider their preference?

Negative campaigning always works. When you are effectively barred from campaigning negatively, what remains is the status quo.

All of this plays into Capriles’ hands. Pérez may get the dinosaurs’ stamp of approval. Leopoldo may get the endorsement of the Valencia yuppies. But what we said a few months ago remains true today – the primary is Capriles’ to lose.

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