16D: Hercules vs. the Stockholm Syndrome

My money is on the hydra

Now, because you’re reading this blog, it’s a safe bet that you’re really into Venezuelan politics and, more than likely, take a strong tribal stance on the whole Govt/Oppo thing.

But set that aside for the next five minutes and try to imagine yourself as a totally dispassionate, purely instrumental, who’s-going-to-fix-the-potholes-on-my-street type of voter. Who would you then vote for in the gubernatorial elections on December 16th, the PSUV candidate, or the oppo guy?

To me, the answer is clear. My local chavista candidate may well be a semi-literate incompetent and very possibly a crook, too, but backing the opposition is ensuring my gobernación breaks down irretrievably.

Even assuming my local MUD candidate isn’t himself corrupt or incompetent – by no means always a safe assumption – I know that I’d end up with a guy who spends 90% of his time in office in a series of rear-guard skirmishes against antejuicios de merito, doomed-from-the-word-go squabbles over Situado transfers and, if I’m lucky, Herculean efforts to provide an extremely limited set of services in the face of a concerted campaign of obstruction and escamoteo de competencias from a National Government with a very well established track record of pulling the trigger on such threats.

For a few masochists out there, Herculean feats might sound like a good and noble use of the scarce resources in the hands of their regional administration. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves: the only reason they’d go for that is tribal anti-chavismo. I don’t mean that as a criticism, mind you. Some of my best friends are tribal anti-chavistas. It’s just that there aren’t that many of us.

My sense is that, for less-tribal voters, 16D is not a particularly hard choice. You’re in a kind of hostage situation. The hostage-taker has already demonstrated he’s willing make good on his threats if need be. In the movies, that’s the queue for Bruce Willis to come rapelling down the side of the building with all guns blazin’. But this ain’t the movies, and it’s very recently been made clear that there’s nobody out there willing or able to come rescue us.

A more succinct way to say this is that, in an important sense, 16D already happened…on 7O. In splitting the elections, chavismo gambled big, knowing a presidential win would likely deliver 22 or 23 governorships to PSUV as well.

And it won big.

The rest is a tramite.

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