An Election Year Without An Election

0

rubicon2Legislative Elections are meant to take place later this year, replacing the National Assembly chosen in 2010 with a new cohort. These elections should, by any reckoning, be the central political event of the year. There’s just one rub: they probably won’t happen.

I’m out on a limb here. By indefinitely postponing a vote, Maduro would be breaking a taboo Chávez never had reason to break, and that will have unpredictable consequences for the government’s stability. Maduro may very well not survive it. But I still think it’s his best option because, on current polling trends, holding the election would surely break his hold on power.

Back in 2010, CaracasChron worked out a little Legislative Election Forecasting Tool aimed at predicting the impact of a given popular vote distribution at the national level on the distribution of actual A.N. seats. The tool showed the ways the system was rigged to benefit PSUV: in effect, the opposition would need to win 54% or more of the National Popular Vote to overcome the gerrymandered map and win a 50%+1 majority on the A.N.

(In the event, the tool did quite well at predicting the outcome of the election: with 49.6% of the head-to-head vote against PSUV, the tool predicted MUD would win 66 seats in the 165 seat National Assembly. They got 65.)

What the forecasting tool really showed, though, is that Venezuela’s idiosyncratic part-first-past-the-post/part-proportional-but-not-really AN voting rules tend to build up big, disproportionate supermajorities if the election isn’t close. For example, even using the 2010 district boundaries, if the opposition had achieved 60% of the vote it stood to win 72% of the seats in the A.N.

Now, we haven’t reworked the legislative election tool for 2015 yet, but that basic feature is unlikely to change. Venezuela’s voting system is proportional in name only. The system skews pro-PSUV, but only in a close-ish election: otherwise, it just rewards the winner big-time.  And that’s a two-edged sword.

I haven’t seen any Generic Ballot Question polling out of Caracas this cycle yet, but with the way Maduro’s popularity numbers look right now, it seems reasonable to expect that the government would lose the national popular vote by a wide margin.

58-42? 60-40? 62-38? These aren’t fanciful scenarios: we’re going into a midterm election in the middle of a brutal economic contraction with widespread shortages and triple-digit food inflation against a government led by a man even chavistas generally loathe. These are not the makings of a close election.

Now, if PSUV really is in that range – 38-42% range of the vote in the head-to-head matchup vs. MUD – then the government probably won’t get more than 55 of the 165 seats, and might get as few as 35.

For chavismo, that would be a catastrophe of regime-ending proportions, not just because it would surely trigger a recall referendum that Maduro would be poised to lose but because it would shatter PSUV’s carefully constructed aura of invincibility.

I don’t think Maduro has the political or organizational chops to flip an electoral Armageddon on this scale into a win via fraud: he’s just too far behind. Intimidation and vote rigging can tip the balance in a close election in Venezuela, but it’s just not possible when you’re trailing by 18 or 20 points. You need too many people too well-organized in too many places, and the feat of organization required is just more than PSUV can muster at a time when just 1-in-4 self-identified PSUV supporters even want to see Maduro re-elected.

Finding some pretext to cancel elections would be a risky move, for sure. But not as risky as going to elections and ending up with, say, 48 escaños. The former makes the regime highly vulnerable, the latter surely ends it. If I was Maduro, I know what I’d do.

1 COMMENT

  1. Good post, crystal clear, and ahead of the curve. Already, Maduro has shown his I-don’t-care-if-you-call-me-a-dictator stripe. I, too, suspect he will rinse and repeat prior to the legislative elections. No way would he want the Grand Revolutionary Dream to display its threadbare tanga.

  2. There may be other possibilities, such as a reform in the way in which seats are distributed, with the PSUV vote favoured again, through different mechanisms.

    Otherwise, you are probably right that they will choose to throw off their remaining democratic credentials–such as they are–in order to retain power. That will obviously be a critical moment in Venezuela’s history, and that of the regime, as you say.

    I believe that one effect of that will be to reduce future PSUV influence. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua were able to run, and win, after their 1990 Presidential loss only because they accepted defeat at the Presidential election. Had they staged a coup against voters’ intentions, they would not have recovered their democratic credibility within a lifetime.

  3. Oh, I don´t know.

    Why should he call the election off, when he is contending with a mediocre opposition? he just got 4 billion in financing without much fuss, he can spend that.

    More: people do not want to vote for the opposition. Every poll reflects a lack of enthusiasm that is difficult to deny or revert, seeing who the opposition sells as leaders.

    You forget something else: internal PUSV politics. These elections are important to let steam off the party, which is riveted by internal division (or turf wars, like gangs). Campaigning in the natural mode of the PUSV, taking an election from them is highly dangerous, like withdrawing group therapy to group of mandrills in oestrus.

    Punishment vote (kick the bums out) doesn’t work in Venezuela nowadays (otherwise the regime would have ended long ago) . What works is charisma, and both sides are short on that front.

    Even more: electoral districts disproportionately favour the government. They don’t need a popular majority to keep parliament in control.

    So, my bet is on elections near Christmas.

    • There’s plenty of evidence that people don’t really look at the opposition when voting in mid-term elections: they see the vote as a reward/punish decision on the government’s performance, which is why voting often tracks ‘evaluación de desempeño’ polling questions quite closely.

      Late last year, according to Datanalisis, Maduro’s negatives were outrunning his positives 67% to 30%.

      With numbers like that, for PSUV to lose by “just” 60-40 would be a huge result: an incumbent party out-performing its own sitting president’s popularity by about 10 points!

      • Has this evidence you mention been compiled in Venezuela?

        During how long? Didn’t we have, before 1999, parliamentary elections simultaneously with presidential votes?

        May I remind you Maduro claimed victory on an election by less than 2% and they never recounted? Why, should they lose again, refrain from repeating their trick?

        • Listen, that people’s votes reflect their judgment of incumbent performance is a stable pattern widely documented in the political science literature over decades in all kinds of different contexts. Look into it, it’s not really a controversial statement. It might be that Venezuela is the *one* exception to this rule, but then the burden is on you to prove an extraordinary claim, not on me for making a perfectly routine one.

          Could a 20-point-loss be reversed via the same kind of fraud you used to reverse a 2-point-loss? With extreme difficulty. Given the way the automated system works, voting center level actas and hand-counted acta audits have to match the tallies sent electronically to CNE. (And no, you can’t really fake it.)

          This means that to perpetrate fraud, it’s not enough to control the sala situacional at CNE HQ in Plaza Caracas. You actually have to ballot-stuff the old-fashioned way, in the field, voting-station-by-voting-station, on an enormous scale. But who will you call on to perpetrate that fraud? The same demoralized, disenchanted, sick-of-Maduro party activists you’re going to have trouble motivating to even vote in the first place.

          • Ok, so your evidence does not concern Venezuela but political science in general.

            May I remind you, this government won regional election in Táchira and Zulia only last year?

            In Táchira? How is that logical? How does that correspond to government performance?

            What about La Guaira? Can you explain governmental victories based on incumbent performance at any level in the Vargas State from 1999 on? After the tragedy and its handling by the government?

            My burden of proof is amply provided by the latest round of Governor elections, any election in La Guaira since 1999 and I can add, as ñapa, the presidential election of 2013.

          • Ok.

            I have given you burden of proof. You give me one Datanalisis figure.

            Your conclusion (there will be no elections this year) rests on that single piece of evidence, accompanied by what you call “routine” and “uncontroversial” statements of general political theory plus a few personal opinions (the situation is Venezuela is unbearable, I think a government defeat is all but certain, etc).

            Is not a solid case.

            Well my bet is this: there will be elections, because the government needs them for their internal politics, because it still can spend a lot, because it has an organisation able to whip the vote, because there is no enthusiasm for the opposition, because there is no hope anything can change Venezuela anymore (this is a good one, I think, people are resigned to their condition), because the situation is indeed unbearable and elections will let pressure off and because in Venezuela incumbent performance matters less than in political science textbooks.

            More importantly: I don’t think the government can see itself loosing. Arrogance is blindness.

            But listen, I have been wrong before. We will see, won’t we?

            One last thing: I tend to mistrust people who settle for the uncontroversial and routine. They are not the ones who discover new mechanisms or describe new facts. They don’t look at the data on the face.

          • “But who will you call on to perpetrate that fraud? The same demoralized, disenchanted, sick-of-Maduro party activists you’re going to have trouble motivating to even vote in the first place.”

            No, you call on the military who run the “plan republica”, and who don’t give a rat’s ass about what is going on with the country, because they don’t suffer any of the things regular people suffer, since they are spoiled by the government, and are in fact benefiting economically from all this chaos, and couldn’t care less about anything else because their supposed love for Venezuela is as real as the invisible pink unicorn (http://www.theinvisiblepinkunicorn.com/).

  4. El benemérito ha dado la orden de organizar una exposición en Madrid para mostrar “los logros de la revolución bolivariana”.

    http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2015/02/16/actualidad/1424079737_735877.html

    Propongo humildemente un concurso abierto para escoger lo más sobresaliente de estos últimos dieciséis años.

    Comienzo:

    1) Las más de 200.000 muertes violentas, con 91% de impunidad, que ha sufrido Venezuela desde 1999.

    2) El sistema penitenciario venezolano, que incluya vídeos de Iris Varela hablando por televisión.

    2) Un gráfico tamaño gigante y en 3D con la evolución del precio del dólar 1999-ahora, incluyendo las “tres tasas” de los últimos años pintadas con los colores patrios.

    3) La tumba del SEBIN (modelo a escala 1:1 para curiosos, niños gratis hasta los doce años)

    4) Una selección de los mejores discursos de Antonio Maduro, también en 3D, emitida continuamente.

    5) Una muestra “hands-on” de los logros científicos y tecnológicos conseguidos en la UNEFA y la Universidad Bolivariana.

    6) Un concierto dirigido por Gustavo Dudamel, el gilipollas de oro.

    7) Otro de música pop. Estrella principal, la hija de Diosdado, que aun no conoce Madrid.

  5. I’m sorry to say it, but I think you are way, waaaaaay off here. In “criollo”, you are “meando fuera del perol”, big time. There is no freaking way chavismo can lose these elections if they do what they have to do. And fraud is only a small part of what they have to do. They simply have to much power, and this power provides them with many, many tools that will allow them to win even with those low approval ratings shown by the polls.

    I may elaborate later on what those tools are and what I think they will do, but for now I’ll just finish by saying that this people may be extremely stupid when it comes to handling the economy, but when it comes to retaining power, they are smarter than Einstein.

    Don’t be so optimistic…

    • Voting patterns reflect underlying economic realities. The government can’t change the underlying economic reality quickly enough to overcome the hole they’ve dug for themselves. Instead, they keep doubling down on policies that deepen the things that are making them so unpopular in the first place.

      If they’d reformed early – raising gasoline prices and ending the multi-tiered exchange rate in May 2013, say – they would have put themselves in a position to have some options now. They didn’t, though, so now they have no options.

      Again, late last year, according to Datanalisis, Maduro’s negatives were outrunning his positives 67% to 30%. For PSUV to lose by “just” 60-40 would be a huge result: an incumbent party out-performing its own sitting president’s popularity by about 10 points!

      • They have no options???

        Let me give you only a few of the things they can do:

        1.- Postpone the announcement of the election date until as late as possible (I think they have to do it at least 3 months prior to said date), in order to give the opposition very little time to organize the campaign.

        2.- Severely limit the exposure of opposition candidates in the media (even more than they’ve done in the past), so that people don’t really know who the opposition candidates are.

        3.- In tandem with the previous point: Pay as many people as necessary to run as opposition candidates in as many circuits as possible (i.e. divide the opposition). Make sure people don’t know who are the ones being supported by the MUD, among other things, for example, by not allowing the name “MUD” on the ballot.

        4.- Save most of what little income the country is receiving now for the last three months before the election. That way you can create a three-month-long mini-economic boom. People are stupid and will forget about how things were before that.

        5.- Continuing where I left in point 4, in fact, you don’t want people to forget what happened before the artificial mini-boom, you want people to blame the opposition for all the calamities they were enduring. Fabricate as many “Farmatodos” and “Dia a Dias” as possible. Make people think “you see, now that the government cracked on these bastards, everything is fine”.

        6.- Good old fraud in as many places as possible: Pay as many as you have to within the military in order to pull it off.

        And this is only a small list of they can do…

        • I don’t think you grasp how bad the economic situation actually is. They’re on the verge of a social explosion now, *before* the gas price increase. Their oil takings are in the toilet and they’re struggling to make debt payments as is.

          It’s not just about spending money 3 months ahead of an election – though even that now seems beyond their reach. It’s about creating a sense of economic dynamism that drives satisfaction and voter engagement. This is why we all assumed Maduro would try some practical reform moves in 2013: had he pursued those then, it might have created the conditions to engineer a mini-boom of the sort you’re describing now. But he didn’t. That ship has sailed.

          Postponement only helps you if you’re taking measures likely to improve the economic situation down the road and you need a bit of extra time to allow them to work. But they’re not taking those measures. They’ve been resisting them tooth and nails for years. In the absence of reform, postponing another 3 months just gives them 3 more months to agonize, there’s no reason to believe they’d do better 3 months later than 3 months earlier.

          As to the dirty-tricks stuff you list, I’m sure they’d try it. And I bet that stuff, combined, could well turn a 25 point loss into a 20 point loss, maybe – in extremis – a 15 point loss. But there are tectonic forces at play in Venezuelan society that can’t be massaged with those kinds of measures.

          • Well, I might answer a few things to what you said, but I’m having a hard time arguing against my own wishes. This is a debate I really wanna lose!, so I’ll stop here.

            I hope the next day after the election, if it ever takes place, it is you and not me who comes here and say “I told you so”.

          • Well but it’s not just about the money. It’s about the reform.

            With one dollar rate at Bs.6.30 and another at Bs.174, oil could go to $300/barrel tomorrow and it wouldn’t help. There’s no level of oil income sufficient to persuade someone to use a Dollar he bought for Bs.6.30 to buy imports he’s going to sell for Bs.20 when instead he could spare himself the trouble and turn that dollar directly into Bs.174.

            Maduro sealed his fate last week with the Simadi non-reform announcement. Keeping the three tiered system guarantees ongoing supply chaos. And ongoing supply chaos is incompatible with a close election.

          • I think that speaks a lot about the mail conflict of post-Chavez chavismo, you preserve a crazy multi-tier exchange rate to keep some sense of unity in the fractions (appease the commies who will denounce eliminating the system as a betrayal of Chavez legacy and Diosdado’s friends can keep turning huge profits) at the risk of shutting down the country, Maduro is a President forced to unleash forces that can overthrow him socially out of the feat of being kicked out by his own people.

          • “With one dollar rate at Bs.6.30 and another at Bs.174, oil could go to $300/barrel tomorrow and it wouldn’t help. There’s no level of oil income sufficient to persuade someone to use a Dollar he bought for Bs.6.30 to buy imports he’s going to sell for Bs.20 when instead he could spare himself the trouble and turn that dollar directly into Bs.174.”

            What a bunch of bullshit. Like that arbitrage didn’t exist before, for years, with blackmarket USD.

          • And once again, “dspur” has inadvertently, not only stated the truth, but confirmed that, in fact, Chavismo is exactly the same as the Adecos with all of their faults, but amped up to the tenth power. Pretty much anyone should be able to admit that if a currency exchange policy that permitted a 5-10% arbitrage opportunity was bad, one that allows a 3,000% arbitrage opportunity is far worse.

            He is getting good at this…

          • Roy, “inadvertently” by what token? If you believe people here have the patience to blindly promote whatever party, keep it to yourself. CC comments, specially those two-pages deep, aren’t exactly coveted billboard spaces.

          • a menos de que, en días antes de las elecciones, los militares distribuyan la mercancía de los negocios expropiados, mercancía ahora acaparada en galpones militares.

          • With no institutions to stop chavismo from doing so (I can see Gladys Gutiérrez writing the TSJ decision postponing the thing) no mass media where to denounce it, they can get away with it for some time. Also public opinion in Venezuela has turned very jaded about this, the TSJ has done worst (They said we didn´t need evidence that our President was alive for him to be in office)

  6. I hate these types of posts. You present us with the scenario of a scenario. Without any polling data you are assuming that the PSUV is on the ropes, when they have performed quite well in regional elections. Maduro’s popularity is different than PSUV’s. Then you build on that assumption to assume that they would rather not go through an election. Do you have any proof that this is being discussed? Do you have a lead on a meeting where this was talked about? Or is this just happening in your head?

    All this mental masturbation only leads to a paralysis: why even plan and get organized for an election that will never happen?

    • Hey, you’re entitled to hate it. Obviously it’s an exercise in judgment, though I can’t imagine how saying the government is likely to lose by a lot in current circumstances could be seen as controversial or even speculative at this point: what government doesn’t get destroyed in elections two-years into a deep recession with out-of-control inflation and shortages and a leader who’s personally unpopular? It’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious.

      I want to put it on the record early, though, just for the gloating rights down the road…

    • “Without any polling data you are assuming that the PSUV is on the ropes, when they have performed quite well in regional elections.”

      It was all about the money, the golden eggs dropping from PDVSA. With very little money to spread around, how does the PSUV have even a remote chance of winning in regional elections? The success of socialist governments in other South American countries has always been predicated on grabbing the national budget, usually greater than ANY revenue stream from private corporations, and doling-out money/favors/bribes to their political constituents. They got bare majorities by doing that. Venezuela is/was different. The Chavistas grabbed the entire revenue stream of PDVSA, the primary source of revenues for the government, and happily squandered close to a trillion dollars on the promotion of themselves. Those times are over. The golden goose is now emaciated and feeble. There is NO way to start raising taxes on everything from gasoline to electricity without causing a major uproar. There’s your difference. Trying to squeeze more revenue out of a golden goose with dysentery, ..won’t work anymore. It’s over. The regional elections coming-up will reflect that fact. The opposition should be focusing on three things: (1) Demanding a date for the regional elections. (2) Demanding the immediate release of Leopold Lopez. and (3) Bringing world-wide media attention to the current, catastrophic health care situation in Venezuela.

      The Chavista’s are currently boxed into a corner, and they know it…

  7. Well, you have to dissect a little bit the problem here. It’s true that the system favors an overrepresentation of the majority, but the source of this bias is three-fold:

    1- Overrepresentation of rural States (From the 1999 Constitution)
    2- Gerrymandering of pro-oppo strongholds.
    3- Killing the proportionality principle, allowing ‘las morochas’ and increasing the weight of nominal-elected seats from 50% to 70%.

    Number (1) still acts in favor of the PSUV, sin oppo gains ought to be very concentrated in most urban states.

    Contrary to the popular belief, number (2) was the smallest of the problems in 2010, they can try to redraw circuits here and there, but my guess is that there are very limited gains in this tool for the PSUV.

    That left us only with (3), and I predict this is the way chavismo will move in the next months before the election: They will kill ‘las morochas’ and decrease the weight of nominal-elected seats to 50%, relying only in the constitutional provisions that malapportioned representation to smallest states (1), to try to pull out a por-un-pelo majority or at least avoid an oppo super-majority.

    BTW, politically, the new CNE can sell the ‘fairness’ of these reforms by just remembering that for years the oppo was asking exactly that: kill ‘las morochas’ and go back to 50% nominal/lista proportion.

      • I think the Govt. could cancel/postpone the Parliamentary elections, if they felt it necessary, by a Tucan-magnicidio-type claim (trial ballon?), massacre of innocent marchers/students under some pretext by new military killer weapons directorate, etc., but winning by electoral Govt. advantage and outright fraud is more likely.There are about 30-35% of Electoral Registry registered voters-6million-who haven’t really registered, don’t know they’re registered, and don’t vote, or bother to even see, if it were possible, that someone voted in their place.(The ER claims that 99% of all eligible are registered, vs. 65% or so in most other countries). Among these are most of my younger in-laws, who have never voted, but many of which have had their votes casted for them, as per local voting center informants). This is easily done electronically, especially in the 40-60% of voting centers non-witnessed by the Oppo, which are witnessed/governed by/manipulated by the Chavista managers/witnesses. and particularly in the over-represented rural areas mentioned by EconVzla. So, suppose in the 60% of total vote more urban areas, where the Oppo may have witnesses, the vote is 60 Oppo/40 PSUV, for an Oppo 36% of total vote, and in the 40% of total vote non-Oppo-witnessed areas, the vote is 30 Oppo/70 PSUV, for an Oppo 12% of total vote=Oppo 36% +12%, or 48% of total vote, losing once again. Of course, the Ven.Judiciary will allow no audit of actual physical voting paraphernalia, nor any other part of the voting process, since, as per Pres.Carter (with ample Ven. Govt. contributions to the Carter Center in Atlanta, I presume), the Venezuelan voting process/procedures are among the best in the world.

  8. Honest question Quico: Can they change the rules of the game to maintain as many seats as possible with a relatively small amount of votes? Because if they can, I see that as the most likely scenario vs. cancelling elections altogether.

  9. When I look at the economic numbers, I have a hard time believing that Venezuela will get to November/December with any semblance of constitutional order intact. But, what the hell? It doesn’t hurt to hypothesize…

  10. Well there are certain factors to analyze. I don’t think they’ll cancel the election. I do think that we can win big. But I also think, given certain circumstances, that we can lose in an embarrassing way, just like in 2013. Here’s a little analysis.

    Back in the 2013 presidential election, the results were: Maduro 50.6%, Capriles 49.1%. Now, if we take those results and use them to calculate the results of a Legislative elections with them, PSUV would get 99 deputies, while the MUD would get 65. Now, if the vote is split evenly, say PSUV 49.9% – MUD 49.9%, we would end up with a result just like you projected in your tool: 69 deputies for the MUD. Not a pretty sight considering we need 83. However, the position is not that daunting. Yes, gerrymandering is bad (though it can favor the MUD in certain states), but we can overcome it. Based on Capriles’s 49.1%, we’d only need an uniform swing of 2.9% of the oppo vote to get our 83 deputies. So, unlike what Toro argued, we wouldn’t need 54% but 52% of the popular vote (technically) to win. If we want to capture, say 86 deputies, we’d need a swing of 3.3%.

    I don’t think chavismo’s support will fall to 42%. In fact, let me tell you, even if we win big, you’ll find plenty of people surprised of the PSUV’s capability to garner more or less 45% of the vote. I don’t think they’ll pull the plug on this one, considering the primaries they announced and all that. They probably have an ace up their sleeve, but canceling the election isn’t it, or so I think.

  11. I think it is more possible that the majority of heads an mos vissible oppo politicians will end with judiciary and behind bars so they cannot jump into elections. This would bar them from polotical posts and still would allow for elections to happen. We are already seeing it on the coup stories.

  12. We’ll have to wait and see, Francisco.

    Apart from their amazing skill for coming up with nicknames (Marta Plomomina, Malser Granier, etc), chavismo’s knack for creating trampas during election season has never ceased to amaze me. They may come up with bs reasons to arrest 99% of candidates. They can find ways to further reduce oppo funding (Also, they have over 80% of mayors and 20/23 governors). They could still do a weak version of a Dakazo. They could do even more blatant gerrymandering. Hell, even if it’s obvious they are going to lose big time, we might go back to proportional representation by state.

  13. I’ve been fiddling around with the election spreadsheet (me dieron en la vena del gusto) and while it will change this time, the basic principle is that a small advantage in popular vote leads to huge advantages in seats. With the oppo vote at, say, 56% you are already reaching 100 oppo seats, which is even a 3/5 majority! (remember the famous diputado 99).

    Basically, this means that very modest leads for the opposition translate into huge seat gains.
    The system is more biased in favour of the government, but in the end it’s biased towards the winner.

    For the oppo to get less than 56%, the PSUV would need to (at least) double Maduro’s popularity. Can you get 22-24% of the voters who don’t like Maduro to vote PSUV with Chavez stories, full blown state intervention and mobilization and bits and pieces of intimidation? Maybe, maybe not.

    The BEST thing that could happen to the oppo would be for there to be a splinter in the chavistas. Maybe that 20-24% won’t vote oppo, but if the vote something else, you basically ensure a large oppo lead.
    Something like Movimiento por el amor y la memoria del Comandante Eterno (MAMCE).

  14. This whole thing of elections is getting beyond bizarre at this point.For those who still believe you can win elections in a criminal dictatorship, I have given up taking anything you say seriously.I even wonder ” who in the dickens are you?”

    Even if 99 % of the people are against Maduro it won’t make a difference in “elections”.

    Really guys, it got boring a long long time ago.

    I wonder who are the oppos both ‘enchufado’ and leading others to the slaughter? What’s in it for them?That would be a far better and more honest post.

    • With the utmost respect, I thank you for another off-the-cuff lecture on the topic of elections, given by someone who doesn’t vote in Vzlan elections, swings from a NC perch, and cannot/won’t visualize the effects of not going to the polls. Had you had more success, convincing your earlier proclaimed ‘I have more than 100 family members, mostly living in barrios’ to stay home on election day? Oh, never mind. Of course you have.

  15. Why do you have to take the extremely risky and high profile move of cancelling elections when you can just steal them?

    Maduro is in power today and not Capriles despite over 3,200 irregularities logged by international watchdogs and 235,000 votes. That election was marred with tons of voter intimidation, there was never even a recount, and the whole process of a recount was uphended by an illegal decision, which is what you get when the electoral process is controlled by the judiciary which is controlled by the president.

    When the president gets to directly call the rules on how electoral counts get constructed, you get what you get.

    Hence, whatever the actual results will be in the upcoming election, expect them all to be doctored to inexorably show gains for PSUV, and despite every statistician and watchdog group waving enough hands to briefly gain altitude, the show WILL go on. And you’ll get a chorus of overseas leftist publications saying “the people chose. Venezuela is a healthy democracy and the elitist right wing is trying to undo that!” etc. etc.

    And of course, even if they for whatever reason can’t or won’t throw every single election, they can just appoint more parallel offices. It’s worked so well for them so far.

  16. I think that even with this crisis, the opposition would be unable to win more than 55%, too many people believe the economic war crap, I have heard opposition people saying that inflation is driven by greedy people rather than economic policy. The goverment still have the upper hand in terms of resources. If any, they would probably find convenient to further gerrymander the districts and do the elections ASAP and get away with a 50-50% seats result, they could even give themselves a 5 year-long enabling law si les sale del forro, common people have no faith or expects much from any national assembly anyway. We should never underestimate the goverment nor people’s dumbness.

    • Yes James, but there are some people who refuse to see the obvious, and others who have a finger in the pie.So we ruminate instead.

      firepigette

  17. People can easily be convinced at some point that Dictatorship is necessary and good.They can even be made to dislike Democracy.

    Just look at Russia.Most Russians I know defend Putin’s macho -man anti Democratic style.They rationalize.

    They say Russia is too large and diverse to have a working Democracy….

    I don’t think that the poor in Venezuela care that much for Democracy at this point.They want money, access to food, safety and dignity.

    Elections are not needed by the government….maybe the false elections were important for a time but not so much now.

    • I would guess a sizable fraction of the opposition would be ready to shed democratic pretenses and enter a Faustian pact with a military faction to get rid of the current government. The battle in Venezuela right now is mainly over how to slice the pie, not what system of government we should have, despite pretenses that it is a conflict between a government of the pueblo and a true democracy.

      exchange rates, price controls etc == slicing the pie

      This is not to say that there aren’t better ways to slice the pie, or better ways to manage the slicing (hold the knife?), and make people happy (freedom is nice), but they are secondary in importance.

    • “Just look at Russia.Most Russians I know defend Putin’s macho -man anti Democratic style.They rationalize.”

      They almost certainly watch RT or other state media. Otherwise he’s indefensible.

      It’s one thing to be anti-democratic, it’s another to be shamelessly corrupt from the top all the way to the lowliest meter maid. It’s also easier to be an anti-=democratic ‘savior’ when oil prices are on a decade long boom, not so much when they come crashing down. (sound familiar?)

    • What you should remember is that, at least now, Putin did one thing going for him, that Maduro does not. Unlike the current Venezuel government, Putin´s regime is not crazy “where it counts” (to quote from an old article here): their economic policy, though, perhaps, not as efficient as it could be given the oil bonanza, has always been sane. As a result (given the oil bonanza), Russians had never lived as well as they lived in 2013. Even those who hated the government were very obviously benefetting economically: there was enough to spread. So everybody had (and still has) something to loose from instability: regime did provide a lot of bread (and a good amount of entertainment to accompany it).

      As we now see, Russia´s insanity is not in economics, but in superpower delusions. But that is a completely different matter.

  18. “…Intimidation and vote rigging can tip the balance in a close election in Venezuela…”

    That’s also known as FRAUD.

    I agree that it isn’t easy to perform, but when you have people willing (or getting paid) to beat the crap and even kill anybody who complaints, it becomes more possible.

  19. Assuming that we get to November/December and the regime is still in power and pretending they are still functioning in accordance with the Constitution (lots of “ifs” there, but lets go with it), they can:

    1. Indict and disqualify all the MUD candidates.
    2. Declare the MUD parties “terrorista” and “golpista” and make them “illegal”.
    3. Kick out all of the Observers and simply announce the results they want.

    They can do any of those things, because by then, they won’t care that much anymore about appearances. Whatever they do will be declared constitutional by the TSJ, and that will be that. The people (inside and outside) who oppose them will scream. The ones who need them (inside and outside) will acquiesce. Big headlines for a week. Then on to other things.

  20. My guess is no elections because the Chavistas will declare a national emergency just before the elections claiming the opposition parties are planning a revolt. They will try to make this palatable by exiling Maduro claiming corruption and mismanagement and proposing more radical social and economic policies.

  21. Why assume that any punishment votes would go to the MUD? All they have to do is field enough Marea Socialista types and the AN stays the same.

  22. My guess is that there will elections. If they loose them, then they will create some entity that will review and approve the laws generated from the legislative.

  23. If people hate the government and love the opposition, opposition wins. If people hate the government and the opposition, abstention wins.

    Luckyly for Maduro, there’s plenty of MUD politicians out to ruin any chance to win big, in exchange for some perk.

    Primaries are still a controversial tool to select candidates among MUD higher ups. And the usual process, often involving horse trading in a smoke filled room, is sure to leave too many Ramos Allups, Enrique Mendozas, Alfonso Marquinas, etc; to seriously attract new voters.

    The irony of MUD: an election-obssesed* political alliance that does its best to avoid primaries.
    (*To the detriment of civil desobedience, demonstrations, agitprop, and other peaceful mechanisms of political struggle).

  24. I am betting they find some excuse to first delay, then cancel the elections. I can’t see them allowing the AN to go Opposition. I just can not see that..

Leave a Reply