A few hours after the chief researchers of the new Encovi study told the media that 76% of Venezuelans live in extreme poverty, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Joseph Borrell announced the bloc is sending an Electoral Observation Mission (OEM) to the regional elections scheduled for November 21st in Venezuela. This mission is tasked with carrying out an independent assessment of the electoral conditions. Its remit is broader than that of the accompaniment missions we have seen in elections since 2006.
If this mission is allowed to do its work, and if the process passes the examination (even with low marks), the result will enjoy an important degree of legitimacy. It’s safe to say that government candidates have the upper hand, they not only have better-organized grassroots but also have an accumulated historic capital in pressuring voters (through their dependence on CLAP food parcels and the support of military and local authorities). On the other hand, the opposition has lost voters to emigration and disenchantment, has few resources, and is divided in intestine wars. In consequence, the government has the golden opportunity to sweep in the cleanest elections possible (under these insane circumstances, yes) in years.
If chavismo is able to behave itself, which is hard to imagine, it could have a mediocre turnout and still obtain a double victory: retaining control on most cities and states, and regaining a bit of legitimacy—just enough to pave the way for sanction relief.
However, as we’ve said before, we believe the government has learned to live with sanctions, and while they would love to have sanctions lifted, they aren’t willing to risk losing power to get there. Quoting the Architect, “there are levels of survival we are prepared to accept.” And chavismo, too, has levels of survival they are willing to accept.
Last week’s Political Risk Report covered a wide array of subjects:
- A government strategy to drive a wedge between the two main opposition parties.
- Behind Primero Justicia’s withdrawal from anything that had to do with foreign asset management regarding the caretaker government.
- Details of the deployment of the OEM, and how it was taken by the different opposition groups.
- The strategy to keep the caretaker government alive beyond January 2022.
With COVID-19 exploding despite an increase in the pace of vaccination, and the new economic challenge with the arrival of the bolivar digital in a dollarized country, the country described in the Encovi survey is focused on survival, looking away from an election that offers little chances of change and whatever happens in a hotel in Mexico City.
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