The lonely base

Una moneíta por favor

One of the more salient aspects of last night’s PSUV … er Panorama Debate was how all of the candidates missed golden opportunities to pander to the opposition’s hard-core base.

Two examples come to mind, both from the latter stages.

The first came when Leopoldo López was asked, and I’m paraphrasing, how he could have sat down with Colombia’s former President Álvaro Uribe, when he was being questioned for human rights abuses. The journalist went so far as to say that Uribe was in bed with paramilitaries and killed peasants to later disguise them as FARC guerrilla fighters.

Now, there are probably two things the opposition’s base is united on: their hatred of Hugo Chávez, and their love of Álvaro Uribe. This was a golden oportunity for López to respond something along the lines of:

“Álvaro Uribe is a democrat who accepted the independence of the institutions of his country and left power when he had to. He provided security and prosperity for all Colombians, and he laid the groundwork for that country’s bouyant current situation. Colombians rewarded him with approval ratings of almost 80%. Colombia has a lot to teach us about how to make a country safer and open to investment. The only places where Uribe is some sort of pariah is in the far-left circles of the government that you, Fulana de Tal, obviously mingle in. Álvaro Uribe is a defender of freedom in the continent and I’m extremely proud of having met with him.”

Instead, López mumbled his way through an answer, basically saying that Uribe knows how to fight crime, and that all other things are internal issues for Colombians.

The other point came when Maria Corina Machado was asked the (sexist) question about what she sees in Dilma Roussef and Cristina Kirchner that she would like to have. Here is an answer that would have left the base giddy with excitement:

“From Dilma I would like to have a prosperous, democratic country, that understands that neither extreme capitalism nor the extreme communism that we are going towards are the answers to our people. And from Cristina, I would like to have a friend who sends me suitcases of dollars to finance my campaign. That way it wouldn’t be so hard to raise the funds I need.”

Instead, Maria Corina sort of mumbled her way through a non-answer on that one.

These two points highlight a trend in the primaries that is becoming, surprisingly, more pronounced: nobody is throwing any bones to the base, and they are feeling mighty lonely.

This is the right strategy for the front-runner, who is already thinking about the general election, but it is the wrong one for the guys (and gal) at the bottom of the ladder.

9 thoughts on “The lonely base

  1. Those you proposed were mostly common sense answers.

    That way they could also “pander” to a lot of people who have voted Chavez. Who have no love whatsoever for the FARC/ELN, Socialism (with the resultant destruction of industry and agriculture) and Hugo Chavez’s spongers allies. Who give Chavez failing grades on crime and security as well as on Venezuelan sovereignty. In summary, the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans who are not this guy

    Making oneself distinct by advocating common sense is quite the opposite of being rigidly ideological.

  2. I think Maria Corina has done a good balancing act of approaching the opposition base without fall completely into Maria Alejandra Lopez-territory. She could pander shamelessly like most republican primary candidates (expect Ron Paul), but doesn’t. She’s promoting her agenda in a serious manner, because she knows her option is different to the others.

    • Yeah, and how’s that workin’ out for her?

      Listen, I don’t *want* candidates to pander. I’m simply puzzled as to why it doesn’t happen more.

      • One of the perks of being co-blogger is that I get to answer on the main blog, rather than in comments!

      • “How’s that workin’ out for her?”

        I don’t know. We will find out on primary day, but she’s working not just for winning the nomination, but to create a new political option in the country in the long term. She’s on her own in this race, no political establishment is helping her out. She’s doing her own thing (So does Arria and Medina, but their reasons are different), but she looks committed to create her brand and set her agenda. She would look ridiculous if she’s starts to pander to the base. She knows this. That’s why she’s doing this IMHO.

      • The reason that she might polling so low might be completely unrelated to what you are saying here. It might have more to do with the lack of republican values in Venezuela. It was said around here that we are witnessing a beauty pageant. Very few Venezuelans are going to be choosing a candidate in February 12th based on ideas, proposals and values. Very few oppo feel strongly about one candidate or the other. The only strong feeling that the oppo base has is against Chavez. The will vote for whoever they feel more related to, regardless of anything that has been discussed in the press, and vote more likely for that who is more likely to beat Chavez. MCM is not perceived as that person. Maybe because she is a woman, maybe because here upper crust accent, but not being radical enough is probably not it.

  3. I think we all need to read “The Dictators Handbook” by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, once we do the answers and the puzzle pieces fall into place on the whole business of politics, not just dictarships. I just did, and its amazing why I didn’t think this way before, I guess I was brainwashed by “Political Science”, “Foreign Policy”, Domestic Policy, etc. Definitely one of the must read books of 2011, not endorsed by the establishment, porsia!

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