Both Sides Lost In The Venezuelan Municipal Elections

December 9, 2013

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No matter how you look at it, no matter how you interpret it or want to interpret it, yesterday’s results in the Venezuelan Municipal election were not a victory for the opposition. Far from it. They may not have been a victory for Chavismo either, but the results were far from what the opposition had expected a few weeks ago and while there were some sweet victories like Valencia, Barinas (Triple sweet and Divine Justice on the day of Loyalty to Chávez), Barquisimeto, the Alcaldía Mayor and others, squeaking by in Maracaibo was not in the plans and can not be considered to be a victory. Neither can be narrowing margins in some of the large city municipalities where it has traditionally won.

Consider this: Maduro has been President for eight months. Eight months of absolute inaction. Maduro has little charisma, speaks badly, even if he has improved his delivery. During his brief tenure in office, inflation has double to 50%, the parallel rate has been allowed to double, shortages and lines have increased significantly and the opposition could not even increase its percentage of the votes from the April Presidential election…

Of course the opposition improved from the previous Municipal elections. Of course it had to do better, but this was no victory. It was not a victory for Chavismo either, but despite the deterioration of the country, the disappearance of the maximum leader and  a nebish President, all the opposition did was preserve its spaces, gaining very little.

Of course the Government abused its power over the media, used all sorts of tricks to buy votes, including a brilliant maneuver to make it look like inflation is the private sector’s fault. But prior to that, a maneuver which was actually badly timed, I saw little attack on the Government’s economic policies, little coordination on the part of the opposition in finding a topic and sticking to it. The opposition simply did not take advantage of the Government’s many weaknesses.

Both sides lost in these elections, but this means that Chavismo continues to have the upper hand. In fact, while I do not expect it to happen, it even has the chance to attempt to straighten out the economy. Imagine what would happen if the Government brought inflation down! It will not happen, Maduro is not going to see the light, but the virtual tie on Sunday gives the Maduro Government some range of action to devalue sharply, for example, or as suggested by the VP today, to increase the price of gasoline. Measures that are insufficient to fix all the problems, but that could help the sustainability of the Government long term.

Except that Chavismo is trapped in its ideology, as much as the opposition in its inability to mount an attack it. Thus, after a brief period of some rational policies, I expect Chavismo to step on the accelerator of its radicalization, just because it will be desperate. As desperate as it felt in October when it declared war on commerce. Just because it has no other plan. It will make up another war, a war that the “people” will sympathize with, catching the opposition flat footed once again.

And yes, things are going to deteriorate even further, but I think this election proves that it may not be enough to aid the opposition’s cause. The opposition can not be reactive, it has to proactive, have a plan, some form of ideology beyond wanting to get rid of Chavismo and the danger it represents to Venezuela’s economy and its people. It has to let its leaders lead and not have stale politicians telling people what they think.

About the only positive thing you can say about it is that the opposition continues to dominate the cities. In Venezuela, small cities decide elections, but big cities is where people organize against the Government when they are unhappy and disgruntled. The only question is whether the opposition will take advantage of it, or will someone else do it for them.

Maybe Maduro actually won yesterday, even if he expected more. He could have fumbled the whole thing…but he didn’t.

26 Responses to “Both Sides Lost In The Venezuelan Municipal Elections”

  1. Bruni Says:

    Reading the results, I agree with you Miguel. This was the opportunity for the opposition to score big, and they didn’t.

    Interestingly, some voices from the Chavismo are saying the same with respect to their win. Here’s the link:

    http://www.aporrea.org/ideologia/a178352.html

  2. moctavio Says:

    They lost too, but some of the cities they wanted to win in that article makes little sense.

  3. Tomate Says:

    I hear you Octavio, but the task is very hard as they have limited access to mass media. Capriles had to go to capriles.tv to air his remarks last night. Meanwhile, the other side can control their message and position the oppo in in the Venezuelan mind in anyway they please.

  4. moctavio Says:

    The opposition had no plan, if every opposition politician had focused on inflation and shortages, before the war on commerce began, it would have not worked. Instead , they focused on being populists, even Julio Borges criticized the few sensible decisions the Government made for the sake of getting votes.

  5. jacobotwweerr21 Says:

    sqeaking by is winning with 50. something %. getting 52 against 45 is WINNING!!!

  6. TV Says:

    I think the opposition should start using a very simple message that all Venezuelans can agree with: down with Cuban domination of Venezuela.

    The opposition certainly won’t do worse than Chavizmo in any of the important domestic issues (e.g. corruption, crime, economy, health), so there is comparatively little need to persuade anyone what specific policies need to be taken.

    I think that the power behind the throne isn’t dumb at all, and this systematic mismanagement of economy and other issues is completely deliberate – to ensure no one is left with resources to fight the regime in the first place. It’s literately Zimbabwe all over again, only with much more economy to destroy initially. This is most likely coming from Cuba, so you’d even be attacking the source of the problem.

    • carlos Says:

      Agree!!
      Something that both poor and rich venezuelans will agree is…get rid of Cubans. Kick them out!… the military will support it.
      Nationalism and anti-Cubans messages, also some anti-Chineses, will work as a great anti-Chavismo carrier.
      I cannot understand why the oppo never attempted to play this card.

      • sapitosetty Says:

        Xenophobia is a great way to bring a country together. It’s usually used by people with nothing positive to offer.

        • Glenn Says:

          like chavez anti-imperio?

          • TV Says:

            Indeed, Chavizmo is using xenophobia in the same way Jews were used for the past 2000 or so years, most notably by a certain German political party from 1930s to mid 40s. However, going after Cubans is not even remotely similar to that and has nothing to do with Cubans as such, but rather by the fact Havana in in charge of Venezuela, for which there is no justification whatsoever.

            I also like the suggestion in Caracas Chronicles about going for macroeconomic stability to undermine support among bolibourgeoisie. The two mechanisms are not mutually exclusive.

  7. Maocha Says:

    Completamente de acuerdo contigo, Miguel. Excelente post

  8. Kepler Says:

    This is amazing: we lose a deputy at the National Assembly because both the deputy and the suplente won a seat in these elections

    How stupid can they be that they choose people like that when these people cannot do the job? How stupid?

    http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/elecciones-2013/131210/municipales-restan-un-diputado-a-la-unidad-en-la-an

    No lavan ni prestan la batea.

    • jacobotwweerr21 Says:

      once we lost the two third (due to what you may called the reason we lost it ) my hope was that most of them got us something for that mess. but are you seriusly saying that having impotents in the AN is worse than
      having COMPENTENT Mayors nationwise… really now in the gap… you better stay tune to radio next. the first ever anti-chavista-pro-chavista-yo-nofuí of all times

      • Kepler Says:

        You must be hijo del copeyano ese.
        Are you telling me there are few competent people that these guys have to go all to the National Assembly to get their faces half-known and some money? They cannot do much voting but any decent politician anywhere else would be shouting, fighting, using as much PR to give declarations on and around the AN as a deputy. Let someone else go for the municipio.

        You think this guy is the only competent? If he were such a competent person, we would have heard about any of his work at the AN in the first place. He just wanted to be there to go back to executive politics and do his thing.

        Sorry, you are still in XIX Venezuelan politics and supporting an utterly selfish guy.

        Yeah, only HE could be the representative of the MUD in that municipio…

  9. Maria Gonzalez Says:

    My two-three cents…In general in Venezuela everybody has short attention span. We forget everything very soon. The government takes advantage of this to advance with their revolution little by little. They have the money to launch propaganda campaigns, they re-launch, re-open, recycling old ideas and the opposition is like a “cucaracha en baile de gallina”. On the other hand, I think it does not matter what the opposition does…people forget and do not pay close attention…the government knows that. Then until everybody will remember, will pay attention and will get involved…it does not matter what the opposition does…little by little the “robolution” will keep advancing…may not be “a paso de vencedores”…but it will keep advancing in the next 24 months until the next election.

  10. henri Says:

    Sorry but the opposition did very well , The mayor city of the country they have won and so what is the problblem ? Fe!! It will change !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    IT´S A DEAD END FOR MABURO & CO, do not forget my predidicion.

    BDW I´m not venezuala but live here end I am sure it will change , FE !!

  11. Auuuuuvienelobo Says:

    Si me permites

  12. Island Canuck Says:

    Miguel any advance word on the inflation number for November?

  13. Alex Dalmady Says:

    Maduro made Colbert last night. Funny if it weren’t so sad.

  14. geronl Says:

    The opposition could have won by 10% and lost, why trust a corrupt government to count the vote?


  15. FWIW, it’s amazing that it got stuck away into the NINETEENTH paragraph of his story, but Puzkas says we lost by over a million votes -> http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/elecciones-2013/131212/oposicion-gano-votacion-en-4-estados

    (His tweets are more forthcoming –

    https://twitter.com/puzkas/status/411101203989561344)


  16. People have been giving to the opposition votes by those Chavistas that opposed Psuv in races


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