Down the Sketchy Election Fraud Road, Again

Fraud seems like the only reasonable explanation for tonight's unfathomable election results. It's also the easiest way to paint yourself into a corner.

I don’t agree with Quico.

I wouldn’t call this outright fraud, yet. The feeling is way too similar to that of the 2013 Maduro/Capriles elections when Maduro won and the opposition questioned the results, pursued an audit, and mobilized people in the streets. And once the dust started settling they realized that the kind of fraud that had happened was harder to explain than just saying they changed a 1 for a 7. It was way more complex than that, and yes, way worse, since it relied on Millions of Dollars from corruption and on using public institutions to gain electoral advantage. It was about the conditions on the playing field, conditions which you accept, under protest of course, but still, conditions that you accept because there’s just no other choice.

We know where that course of action took Capriles. He was called a coward after pulling one of the bravest moves that a politician can pull, which is to put common sense before your followers’ innermost desires, when he called off the street protests against this hard-to-explain fraud.

With each passing day, the resolution of the conflict slips further away from Venezuelan hands.

Tonight, minutes before Tibisay Lucena went on national television to announce the results, MUD rushed a statement by its spokesman, campaign manager Gerardo Blyde, in which he said that they had information that the CNE was to announce the results, and that they had reason to believe these results may not be trustworthy and that they wouldn’t accept them until MUD was able to verify its own numbers.

Tibisay Lucena’s results were unbelievable. Before a national jaw drop, Lucena read the numbers. The opposition was only able to snatch 5 (or 6) governorships, when the worst scenarios from different experts predicted 7.

It is unbelievable. For all the reasons we write about on this website every day. Unbelievable. Absurd. Incredible. Improbable, yet not impossible. It was an extremely hard to call election from the beginning (what if there wer actually some chavistas with their own regional following who weren’t relying in Chávez’ fat mustachioed banana-eating legacy?). This is why, on Friday’s Political Risk Report we didn’t give an estimate of results, but mostly focused on the motivation of the regime to commit fraud, and on the international repercussions that said fraud would entail. I believe, like Quico, that the Venezuelan conflict has migrated to the geopolitical playing field and that with each passing day, the resolution of the conflict slips further away from Venezuelan hands.

But I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that the international police will jump on this one and call fraud. In any case, I’m sure that if they don’t, it is because we are in a similar situation to that of Capriles in that terrible night of 2013, when he lost his second election against the Venezuelan dictatorship. And we should keep in mind the mistakes of five years ago before moving forward.