The missing debate

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Fewer speeches, more strategy
Fewer speeches, more strategy

It’s been a while since we talked about Venezuela’s opposition on the blog. This is the result of a combination of things: uninteresting stories concerning opposition figureheads (the tussles between chavismo and Juan Carlos Caldera or Carlos Ocariz are not worth writing about); a stasis of the situation of our main leaders (Leopoldo, Maria Corina, and Capriles all seem stuck in time, unable to drive the agenda – in Leopoldo’s case, he is literally stuck in time); and frankly, the realization that whatever happens in Venezuela is out of the opposition’s hands (that is why we’ve spent more time talking about Wall Street than Chúo Torrealba).

In spite of this, there is one issue that is both crucially important and completely absent from our national debate: the way we are going to choose candidates for the National Assembly elections due in 2015.

Everyone in the opposition agrees that next year’s legislative elections are crucial. We don’t know when they will be held, but we do know two things: they have to be held, and chavismo is in really bad shape to win them.

The irony is that our own coalition has never been weaker. Choosing unity candidates in an environment such as this one is a proverbial minefield. That is why the MUD needs to begin the process of deciding how this will happen, and deciding it soon.

Last time around, a combination of opinion polls, primaries, and smoke-filled rooms left us with a roster of legislators that have been, to put it mildly, underwhelming. Are we going to copy-paste the same folks as last time? What about the new actors that have emerged in the last five years – the students and the civic activists, the journalists and the political prisoners? How will we bring them into the fold?

The time to start debating this and coming up with a practical solution … was yesterday.

So, let me be blunt: unless the opposition starts focusing on the issues that really matter, we will do our best to continue ignoring them in this little corner of the inter-world. Shape up and be serious, folks.

1 COMMENT

  1. I think that Voluntad Popular and all ‘La Salida’ folks first have to clear their minds and decide what the heck they’re up to in 2015. MUD’s spokespeople have stated that focusing on National Assembly elections is mandatory, just like you suggest; and polls say that the only way we can win those elections is to go together (http://goo.gl/k0XAfa). In my opinion, no effort should be wasted on collecting signatures that the CNE has already rejected way in advance, not to mention that the whole Constituent process is a misterious ruleless ground, like those that the Constitutional Court loves to interpret… and we all know towards whom the TSJ likes leaning. So, it’s time for them to either sit down, man up and play fair; or continuing with their «push and pull» attitude, encouraging the “Dictadura no sale con votos” speech and promoting the Constituyente (which, in any case, should be subject to referendum), while they keep their seat in la Mesa, even if their actions mean sabotage to MUD’s own purposes. O corren o se encaraman.

  2. Chúo Torrealba said in an interview weeks ago something that confirmed my fears: That “safe” circuits would have candidates selected by consensus, while more competitive ones would have primaries. So, they never learn.

  3. Weak opposition means disunited Chavizmo. It could be a strong opposition is precisely what Chavizmo needs to solidify itself.

    Then again, I could be wrong.

  4. You could do another article on Venezuela’s perverse competitive advantage: arbitrage.
    The scheming details on how a 1 dollar can be turned into thousands of dollars are sadly fun to read. It also allows for some creativity no?

  5. 1st. The wives of the political prisoners (LIlian, Patricia, Rosa) have reported that Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos, Enzo Scarano and others have been tortured while imprisoned – not merely stuck in time or simply inconvenienced. Examples include: excrement and urine thrown on them, politically themed music blaring music at nights to disrupt sleep, beatings, little to no access to reading materials and no visits from their family or friends.
    2nd. When the leaders (MCM and LL) were able to “drive the agenda” (#LaSalida) they were criticized and when they work on the local door to door work they’re criticized.

  6. Ramos Allup made his view clear:

    “Some hopeless politicians, in their demagoguerie for 2015, have offered universal primaries, knowing full well that said mechanism would be our undoing, instead of recalling our past experience with perfect alliances in 23 lists and 67 circuits. That time (2010 parliamentary elections) we used consensus as a basis and primaries as exceptions and that got us 52% of the votes.

    Where would the money for primaries come from?

    That’s another issue! And it’s not just primaries, it’s internal party primaries, multi-party primaries and definitive primaries, and only then comes the election against the government! Where are we going to get all that money? I don’t know. I’m just going to say that everybody gets more with consensus than with primaries. Primaries leave the little guys with no chance to get a seat in parliament.”

    Original text:

    “[…]Ya han salido algunos desahuciados, en su puja demagógica por el 2015, a ofrecer primarias universales, sabiendo que con ese mecanismo nos vamos a entrampar, en vez de aprovechar la experiencia de alianzas perfectas en 23 listas y 67 circuitos. Entonces usamos fundamentalmente el consenso y excepcionalmente primarias y así obtuvimos más del 52% de los votos.

    -¿De dónde saldría el dinero para costear [las primarias]?

    ¡Además! Porque fíjate, son: primarias dentro de los partidos, primarias entre los partidos y primarias para los candidatos definitivos, ¡y después elecciones frente al Gobierno! ¿De dónde van a salir los reales? Yo no sé. Yo dejo esta reflexión: todos obtendrían por consenso más que con primarias. Con primarias los chiquitos no tienen ni una sola oportunidad de tener diputados.”

    http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140915/hay-que-asumir-el-rol-ingrato-de-decir-lo-que-no-se-quiere-oir

    • Having presented his view, I think he’s full of it.

      – 52% percent is a self-delusion number. PPT wasn’t part of MUD at the time of the election, it joined some time later (before being “expropiated” along with PODEMOS).

      – I hate when they use the “money argument”. There’s always money to fund her wife’s run for El Hatillo (she got less votes than the PSUV candidate even though the incumbent was from AD), there was also enough money for PJ’s candidate to fixing potholes while on campaign, but apparently not for a primary in El Hatillo. If they need money, they can organize fund-raisers and collect money at intersections, or God forbid go to their regular funders.

      – The little guys in 2010 were MCM and VP. And they stopped being little guys PRECISELY because of primaries. MCM got her spot as an independant running in a primary against candidates from PJ, UNT and smaller parties (like Vecchio’s VP at that time). VP grew in the municipal elections thanks to all the spots they secured in primaries.

      – It’s impossible for everyone to be better off in consensus than with primaries, because candidacies are finite, therefore someone’s bigger share means someone else gets a smaller share. The question is who gets a smaller share under primaries than with consensus? And the answer is the big parties, those are the ones that stand to lose. Because in primaries is harder for them to impose candidates (like UNT does in Zulia), or to trade them (like UNT and PJ did with San Antonio for Maracaibo), it’s also harder to prevent new players from emerging (like Prove did to keep Scarano from running for Governor).

  7. Cuando ad habla de los partidos grandes, se incluye aunque la realidad es que cada vez pierden mas votos, a los unicos que no les convienen primarias dentro de la oposición son a los partidos de la vieja escuela, ad y copei. Ad está apostando al consenso de las listas basandose en resultados de elecciones pasadas, es la única forma de seguir manteniendo la ficción de que son un gran partido.

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