Macro trends and micro stories

Auf wiedersehn

Auf wiedersehen

Today, everyone has a theory about what happened yesterday: people going on vacation, abstention, voters feeling sorry for Chávez, populism.

But while there may be some truth in all of this, I think the real story of yesterday’s results varies from state to state. It has to do with the local candidates.

There may be macro trends at play, but one cannot ignore the specifics of each race when trying to explain the results.

Let’s start of with the opposition’s wins. In Miranda, Lara, and Amazonas, we had three popular incumbent governors who ran solid campaigns. Chávez beat Capriles in all three states two months ago, but left-of-center governors who have built effective political machineries managed to turn back the red tide.

Then there are the losses…

In Zulia, chavismo ran a former governor who was also a Presidential candidate against Chávez. Arias Cárdenas is viewed by many people as a moderate – a sell-out, true, but a moderate as well. He has been doling out cash and goodies for months, via Corpozulia. And let’s face it: Pablo Pérez and Manuel Rosales have overstayed their welcome. Theirs is old-style politics, as we have been saying for years now. They have also neglected the political machine outside of Maracaibo, and you can’t win Zulia by focusing on Maracaibo only. The writing was on the wall this past October, when Chávez beat Capriles handily in what was supposed to be a UNT (and opposition) stronghold.

Carabobo is another story of fatigue. The Salas Clan has ruled the state for 20 of the last 24 years, so it seemed a bit rich for us to expect voters to elect them once again, particularly after Chávez beat Capriles handily there in October. The writing was on that wall as well.

Fatigue also played a role in Nueva Esparta. Governor Morel Rodríguez is a fourteen-year incumbent. The opposition voters decided they would rather go to the beach than go out and support him once again.

The story in Táchira is different, and Táchira was the one real surprise yesterday. Pérez Vivas is a one-term governor, so fatigue was not a factor, and Capriles walloped Chávez here two months ago.

However, Vielma Mora ran almost to the right of him. He is the rarest of breeds: a moderate, pro-business, conservative chavista. The soft-spoken former tax collector was the perfect candidate for what is arguably the most rabid opposition state in the nation. Notice that in his first speech, he talks about using his connection to the federal government to solve the most pressing problems tachirenses face: kidnappings, extortion, and the like. He barely speaks about Chávez.

Mérida is also another state that should have been ours. But after being one of two states that Capriles won in October, we fielded a poor candidate. Granted, he won the primary, but let’s not kid ourselves: is it really a bad thing for Merideños that Lester is not the governor elect?

Finally, Monagas was never really ours to begin with. Last year, the governor flipped and left chavismo, without wholeheartedly joining the opposition. But this is chavista country, and Chávez beat Capriles there by eighteen points in October. It was never in the cards that The Cat would be able to win there, as much as we wanted to believe it was possible.

In the end, the one macro trend I see in the results is that we need to field better candidates if we expect to reverse the red tide gripping our nation. Too many of our candidates are old establishment types. And barring poor Soraya Hernández in Monagas, we did not have a single female candidate.

There may come a time when we recover some of these governorships, and also win some new ones. But for now, with the people we put up there, we are simply unelectable.

72 thoughts on “Macro trends and micro stories

  1. Why is it always after the fact that we recognize that opposition candidates are unelectable? The media has spent months saying the opposition had a fighting chance, both times that was not the case. Who are we kidding?

  2. Question to the people of Mérida: Do you think that Florencio Porras’ run hurt Lester? I had thought about this before the elections, as I undestand that Porras is not unpopular in the state and could probably had taken some of the votes of the undecided or “independents” that had voted for Capriles in October. Considering the options, they should have named the puppy given to Capriles candidate.

      • Yeah, Lester was just terrible. He wasn’t fit to be governor anyway. However, the incumbet is also a joyita, he’s the one who took those lands from the ULA, and many fear he will adopt an aggressive policy against the rectorate. I believe the GPP was right for once and Porras was the way to go.

        • When both are crooks, I actually want the CHavista to win. Then people will realize what’s all this about, and no harm is done with the support of the one I voted for.

    • Maybe because they were elected by the highly motivated oppo electorate who vote no matter what, whereas the elections were decided by independent, mostly apathetic, “independent” voters and the two groups were looking for different things in a candidate? This can call into question primaries as a mechanism for selecting candidates in the regions.

    • Just like consensus and closed primary, open primary is a method, not a sure bet. The political machine does also count, and it has to be very political and thoroughly fine-tuned, just like any machine.

  3. Billete mata galan and it’s a sure thing if the purported “galan” looks worse than the billetuo. There’s however no amount of freebies that would elect a kind of fanatic like Jaua to any post of importance even in a country as corrupt as Venezuela, my country.

    It also appears that the absence of Great Leader has made chavismo wisen up and grow some common sense. Thus they fielded relative moderates instead of Hugo’s ideologically oriented favorites. If they were elected, it was because they were not seen to be Mario Silva nor Elias Jaua. But this is double-edged because…

    We’ll see how chavista people like Arias Cardenas, Vielma Mora, and even Ameliach are, after the double decapitation of chavismo. Once by nature, twice by the economy… I guess not that much. They are quite able to flip-flop.

    In fact the problem is how to get them to flip and then not flop back to chavismo. But I guess that playing local politics is more enticing than hooking themselves to Maduro and the Party when the Leader is gone forever.

    • Not so fast. Chavismo lost millions of voters yesterday when compared to October. There is a sliver of a chance.

        • Well, for us a Presidential contest without Hugo is totally uncharted territory, do not jump into conclussions so fast, Pablo

          • True Omar, but yesterday’s election even though were nor Presidential, can be taken as example of what will/can happen when Capriles/Falcon run against Maduro/Cabello. In the hypothetical case that Chavez is besides Maduro the complete campaign, no way we can beat them. Now, after yesterdays results, I can say that if Chavez dies they will still win. Mision Llora a Chavez + Washing Machines + Maquinaria + CNE + Venezolanos Huevones = Chavismo Wins

            • “yesterday’s election even though were nor Presidential, can be taken as example of what will/can happen when Capriles/Falcon run against Maduro/Cabello. ”

              Chavismo lost about three million votes between October and yesterday.

              • I fail to see the point there Juan. They lost almost 3 million votes and still managed to win all but 2 states. Also the results are pretty similar to the 7O. Then Hugo Chávez 55,07% Capriles 44,31%. Yesterday PSUV 56.6% MUD 43.3%

              • I guess my point is that chavismo has yet to prove they can mobilize the same number of voters that Hugo Chávez mobilizes. Capriles has already shown he can move 6.6 million people to vote for him…

  4. Agree Juan, as they say “all politics are local”. If the local opposition people did not find the will to get out to vote, it means the candidate was not worthy.

    Some defeated governors are somehow paying for their implicit support to the enmienda in 2009. They thought it allowed them to become a Chávez at the local level.

  5. But it wasn’t always local. Several PSUV candidates won in places where they were outsiders. Best example is Aissami vs Richard Mardo in Aragua. This is the saddest of all losses as Richard has work very, very hard for Aragua.

    I agree with you in many ways and some part of me is at peace that the Salas clan has come to an end.

    Also, the fact that Capriles won and Pablo didn’t sends the very clear message on who should be the next presidential candidate. If there are presidential elections.

    I guess your message is: If your opponent has vast amounts of resources and a huge political machinery well lubed with oil, the only way you may have a fighting chance is by having a good local leadership.

  6. Sadly, the only option for oppo is to demonstrate that they (we?) really are much better than the other option. I don’t think people see it that way. Let’s face it, some are really crap (Salas comes to my mind), while other really didn’t outstanded themselves while in charge.

    Just a thought: is now there any reason why parties like UNT and Proyecto Venezuela should continue to exist?

  7. Another micro story to your account and an important one if you push me: Maracuchos are beyond fed up with the dismal local management of Eveling Rosales, as incompetent as a politician can be…just look what will happen in April

  8. We need to create our own party of cyber-yuppies!
    Join the Pirate party Venezuela! We bet for cyber politics :)

  9. There is no doubt in my mind that Maduro will handily win against any candidate/combo that the opposition can muster for the upcoming elections… they have a great deal of momentum on their side. Also, the ever-present and unlimited chequera. Plus, if they are smart enough to call for quick elections (I believe they are and will), all the money/gifts spent for the last two elections will still be fresh on the voters mind. To top it all off, they will milk the pity vote to oblivion, playing on the disease/death of El Comandante to motivate turnout. I don’t think we have a chance in hell.

    But is that a bad thing? Not entirely. It is better that Maduro inherits this clusterfuck of an economy than Capriles. Let him try to unravel the “kilo de estopa” that inevitably comes after 14 years of fiscal recklessness. He will be a one-term president, that’s for sure. Then, and only then, we will have a glimmer of hope that the electorate will have learned their long lesson.

    • agreed to a T.

      chabe got 8 million votes in October that I will guesstimate to be made up the following way: 2M are hooked up to the all-giving chavista apparatus via Misiones, consejos comunales, public employment, etc. and were not willing to risk losing their status quo; another 2M are disgruntled and hate middle-and upper-class Venezuelans, perhaps with good reason after being called monos, cachifas and whatnot; the last group of 4M are those that view chabe as a deity, I’m talking about those whose pictures we’ve seen crying on Bolívar squares across

      I don’t see any reason why anybody in these groups would jump ship, so I would expect ALL 8 million votes to transfer to Nicky Mature 1, 3, 6 months from now versus any oppo candidate. he wouldn’t even need to campaign very hard, but when he did his speech would include the same messages we saw in chabe’s last campaign (“the opposition will fire all public employees, they hate you for being poor”) as well as new sentimental bullcrap such as “let’s do this one for chabe, it was his dream to see the revolution carry on…” yadda yadda yadda.

      if I were Capriles, I would say something along the lines of “I’ve been elected governor and will focus on the job for which mirandinos have trusted me with their votes” and sit this one out, then reevaluate my chances 3 years from now in case a revocatory referendum is called or run for Mayor of Caracas and sharpen my teeth for the 2019 election, when I believe chances to be elected will be much higher (when those 8 million votes I described at the beginning are sure to have been reduced to approximately half).

      • I hadn’t thought of the sitting out part… let’s see if he has the political acumen to make that decision. He certainly didn’t have it when it came time to sit out the governor elections, and give Ocariz his well-deserved chance. Come to think of it, maybe Ocariz has a better chance in that 2019 elections. I consider him to have less of a ‘sifrino patina’ and a more solid connection with el Pueblo.

        • Bonifacio,
          Are you kidding me? I think it’s pretty clear that, given the results last night, Ocariz would not have been able to defeat Jaua. Capriles’ decision to run again was masterful.

          • Well, I think that’s debatable. Capriles’ stock was diminished with this victory, in my opinion. Only 4 points over a candidate whose charisma level can only be compared to a doorknob’s? I mean, I am great Capriles fan and all, but I thought his victory in Miranda should’ve been easier. Furthermore, I believe that Ocariz would’ve carried Miranda as well, in the same way Maduro will carry the coming presidentials: by riding on ample coattails. Capriles’ 7-O coattails to be exact. And that would’ve left Capriles’ 6.5mm vote legacy intact. Now his “you are only as good as your last success” is a 4 point nailbiter against Jaua!

            • If Capriles had decided not to run for Miranda and be the “leader of the opposition”, he would had been responsible for this major defeat, with no office to hold, no legitimacy and a bunch of people wanting to take his place in a headless opposition.
              In contrast, he was reelected in the second biggest state in the country, reaffirming his position as oppo leader over any challenger and avoiding being covered in the monumental amount of shit that was poured yesterday. Had he decided not to run, the scenario would be much more grimmer now than it is..

              • Jaua worked hard, as did people like Aristóbulo. No se durmieron en los laureles. Understimating chavistas has never worked for us.

            • I agree cacr210. I didn’t think it was wise for him to run again, but in hindsight, it was brilliant. He saved himself from this massacre, and provided one of the few bright spots in a very bad night for the opposition.

              People are always saying Capriles has great political instincts. I guess this is proof of that.

              • I only realized yesterday that the move was very smart. Without him running for Miranda, we would have no idea of what to do or who would be the candidate in a presidential election. I´m not kidding myself, yesterday was a disaster for us, but our only chance (a slim one) of being elected in the near future was saved by his victory. Capriles saved himself and the MUD from irrelevance.

          • Yes, Capriles saved Miranda and now he can take on the next VP ;)
            I wonder how Maduro explained that to the Comandante, haha. I’m eager to hear from Havana now… Victoria Perfecta or something…

            • Oh please, really? If the Comandante still has a heart that beats he will be overjoyed with last night’s news, and who wouldn’t be? 20 out of 23 states? And other than Capriles’ narrow victory we just had Amazonas and a chavista-no-more fence jumper? I, for one, would ask the cuban doctor to slip some very expensive bubbly into my IV if I heard those news!!

              • Jaja… Bubbly? Ese lo que debe estar es en senda trona de morfina, navegando en pleno orgasmo intergaláctico con su papi/amante en su mar de la felicidad… Maduro seguro le habrá dado algunos consejos tántricos alguna vez, directo de Sai Baba.

  10. First things first, Cesar Perez Vivas is not a person with charisma, that excites masses, regardless of the merits he may have. Many in the opposition see his government as not a bad one, but gray. Additionally, corruption by some of his closest collaborators was highly publicized and tarnished his government.

    Vielma Mora appeared extremely disguised. He wore no red clothes, he did not use at all red banners or red propaganda in his campaign. He did not speak of socialism or communes. His supporters in his campaign and propaganda wore yellow and black football style shirts, the colors of the local football team. Soccer is almost a religion here, and the players of the local team are its priests.

    Vielma Mora spoke about management, progress, efficiency, decency, good trade relations with Colombia, urban and rural security, fight against crime, homicides, kidnappings, paramilitaries and criminals. His speech seemed more as that of a good opponent candidate.

    But he did not even once spoke of the guerrillas (Colombian or Venezuelan). Totally ignored a reality all tachirenses know is spread throughout the state and suffer their crimes. A casual absentmindedness?

    In short, a clever wolf, wearing the skin of an innocent lamb, who by the omission of the guerrillas problem showed his true nature, but few took notice.

  11. “But for now, with the people we put up there, we are simply unelectable.”

    What I dislike about that unelectable stance is that it externalizes responsibility. It makes it seem like it’s not “our” doing, but “theirs”. That’s like the jerk complaining that people don’t like him.

    Let’s get this straight: chavez, a persona we all think is useless for managing a country, is electable, but people who we think could be better managers aren’t. Hmm, why could that possibly be? If it’s his singing on cadenas, then we need a better singer. His jokes? We need a comedian. His looks? Call Fabio…

    Could it be what he promises? Perhaps we need a better promise. One that meets our criteria of being better for the nation AND one that *sounds* better.

    What are you going to tell your grandchildren? “you live in a country where the worst people control the country because the best people weren’t good enough to be willing to promise giving up control of the oil for fear of letting all citizens control it, equally.”

    Until we try that, we can’t really keep playing the woe-is-me cantaleta.

    • “That’s like the jerk complaining that people don’t like him. ”

      And people don’t like him cuz…. he’s being a jerk :p

      First things first, we have to stop being jerks

      “Could it be what he promises? Perhaps we need a better promise. One that meets our criteria of being better for the nation AND one that *sounds* better. ”

      That’s what we need, a new, true proposal of a country, no matter if it’s not the most pleasurable. Maduro will win, let’s see if during his government the bubble explodes and if so, the opposition has to be ready to say “we told you this was going to happen because of X,Y,Z and we need to do A,B,C to fix that because of 1) 2) and 3), yes, we know, it’s not pretty, but if X,Y and Z weren’t done in the first place, then A,B and C wouldnt be necessary.”

      This is the chance to speak clearly to the country, now it doesnt matter if the old guard is pissed because now they have proven to be completely IRRELEVANT. Then we will be electable.

    • > Let’s get this straight: chavez, a persona we all think is useless for managing a country, is electable, but people who we think could be better managers aren’t. Hmm, why could that possibly be?
      Maybe our mirrors are misted from all that self-righteous hot air? :-)

    • And on a completely unrelated note, Extorres, you need to update your topical references.. Fabio? really?

  12. here is a better analysis from a Marxist view point, written part below taken from( but read the whole thing, its insightful)
    Venezuela regional elections: PSUV candidates win 20 out of 23 states

    http://www.marxist.com/venezuela-regional-elections-december-2012.htm

    However, it would be dangerous to fall into empty triumphalism. Not all is well in the Bolivarian camp. As we have warned before, there has been a growing current of discontent among the revolutionary masses against the bureaucracy and the reformists within the movement. This was particularly the case with the way candidates for governors were chosen: from above, without any involvement of the rank and file.

    In a number of states we have already seen governors elected as “revolutionaries”, with the support of president Chávez, jumping over to the opposition (in Lara, Amazonas, Aragua, Monagas, etc.). In the case of the Andean state of Trujillo, the “Bolivarian” governor Cabezas had become so unpopular that he had to be removed as a candidate by president Chávez as there was a near uprising amongst the revolutionary masses in the state when the decision was announced. The new PSUV candidate, Rangel Silva was seen as closer to the will of the people and got an amazing 81% against the opposition’s 17%.

    This discontent led to alternative revolutionary candidates standing in 4 states, all of them supportive of president Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution, but to one degree or another to the left of the official PSUV candidates. They all stood on the Communist Party ticket, although the PCV supported the PSUV candidates in all other states. In different states these PCV candidates were supported by various other forces, like the Tupamaros, the Venezuelan Revolutionary Current (CRV), etc.

    In the Andean state of Mérida, the former state governor Porras got a respectable 10% of the vote, in Amazonas, Gregorio Mirabal got a modest 5%, while in Portuguesa, the alternative PCV candidate got 24% of the vote relegating the opposition candidate to third place (with 21%).

    Perhaps the most significant challenge from the left to an official PSUV candidate was that in Bolivar, the southern state home to the state-owned basic industries (aluminum, steel, etc). Here, the PCV stood Manuel Arciniega who received just over 8% of the vote. He was seen as the candidate standing for the workers of the basic industries and their experience of worker’s control, as against the incumbent governor, Rangel Gómez who has played a key role in destroying the Plan Guyana Socialista and in removing the worker-presidents in these companies. He was also one of those opportunist turncoats who during the April 2002 coup briefly sided with the opposition while it seemed it had the upper hand, only to swear loyalty to Chavez and the revolution once the coup was defeated by the masses.

    Arciniega’s campaign struck a chord amongst an important section of the advanced industrial workers in the region. In Caroní Municipality, where most of them live, he received 10% of the votes, with peaks of 16% in Parroquia Chirica, Parroquia Once de Abril, 15% in Vista al Sol, 12% in Pozo Verde and Yocoima. These are the parishes with the highest concentration of workers from the CVG corporation basic industries and their families. During the campaign he also held a rally of thousands at the gates of the huge SIDOR steel plant.

    It has to be said that there was a campaign of vicious and dirty attacks on the part of PSUV candidates against these alternative candidates, accusing them of being counter-revolutionary and saying that they were against president Chávez. The fear that splitting the Bolivarian vote might have allowed the right wing Andres Velasquez to win in Bolivar also played a role amongst the broad revolutionary masses. Considering all of these factors, the vote received by Arciniega is significant, although it was concentrated amongst the most advanced elements. Opposition against Rangel Gómez was also expressed in an abstention rate of 59%, much higher than the national figure. In the end Rangel Gómez narrowly won the vote by a narrow margin of 46 to 44, but will now be under a lot of pressure from below.

    The results of these alternative revolutionary candidates show that the cynical use of the idea that PSUV candidate are “Chavez’s candidates” still has an impact amongst the broad Bolivarian masses, but no longer holds sway amongst the most advanced elements. They are strongly supportive of the president because they see him as representing the revolution, but are equally against bureaucrats and reformists disguised as “revolutionaries” precisely because they do NOT represent the revolution.

    The build-up of internal opposition within the Bolivarian revolution always seems to be cut across by electoral processes, where the healthy instinct towards unity and rallying the forces behind the candidates prevails. But now there is a strong feeling that enough is enough. An article in the revolutionary website Aporrea was entitled “how many elections are needed to make a revolution.” In order to achieve genuine unity, clarity is also important and therefore, the strongest unity can only be reached through a clear democratic accountability of the elected representatives and leaders of the PSUV to the rank and file.

    • Wow! “Right- wing” Andres Velasquez. Marxist “democratic accountability”. ‘Nuff said. No wonder Marxism has never worked anywhere!

  13. Another thing I disagree with is the notion that “old politics” is dead. Chavismo is playing with same old politics but on steroids. Complete disconnection, but relying in hand outs and politequeira, playing up hope and at the same time black mailing voters. Is not that old style politics don’t work, it is just that it needs vast amounts of funding.

  14. A little more, sorry, I know there is no joy in MUD-ville, Capriles Radonski beat Elias Jaua (52-47). Even here, the PSUV will have a majority in the state legislative council. hey…not such a mandate for your boy.
    Rojo Rojito

    Cort

    The reactionary Spanish newspaper ABC, known for its hatred of Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution, did not mince its words: “These results reveal widespread popular support for ‘chavismo’, despite the absence of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez… On the contrary, these election results represent a serious blow to the Venezuelan opposition which hoped that Chavez’s frail health would mean a bigger share of power for the MUD”.

    The oligarchic opposition is defeated, demoralized and divided, although it still commands important levers of power (Miranda state, but above all, the means of production, the mass media and the food distribution chain). The workers and the poor have defended the revolution on the streets and in the ballot box on countless occasions. Now it is the time to put what they have voted for, socialism, into practice by expropriating the means of production, banks and the landed estates and replacing the capitalist state apparatus with new revolutionary institutions based on the workers’ and communal councils.

    It is time for the working class and the poor to go on the offensive. Socialism is the way forward.

    • Hehe you lovable fool…

      To think that the banks are opposition institutions!, that the means of production haven’t been expropriated and that Polar doesn’t operate out of Colombia and only keeps enough business in Venezuela to supply the local market: more of a moral imperative than a profitable business anymore.

    • Caida, y mesa–BIEN LIMPIA. Back to the Barter State of the Polynesian Islands, with the “Guaiqueri” and other regional “currencies” replacing colorful shells. Hell, we can trade our oil to the Chinese for some colorful mass-manufactured Chinese plastic beads!

  15. Here is the lesson the opposition does not want to learn and it suits chavismo down to the ground:

    En cualquier país del mundo estos resultados electorales hubieran bastado para que la oposición cambiase totalmente de líderes, caras, partidos e incluso ideología. En Venezuela, la oposición, a pesar de ser humillada electoralmente, sigue aupando y promocionando las mismísimas figuras del pasado. – Pérez Pirela.

    • Thus spake the seeker of nepharious clues in a crossword puzzle.
      There’s a man whose words have weight for no one but Arturo and his fellow lackeys.

  16. Well, whenever you evaluate a lawsuit, you have to look at which side you would rather be. If you look at the politics in Venezuela, I would rather be a member of the surviving middle-class than a Chavista depending on government subsidies. Let’s face it, Chavismo is a game of musical chairs where every year there are fewer chairs!

  17. I find it odd that anybody is surprised by yesterday’s result. I thought everyone always understood that by splitting presidential and gubernatorial elections, the latter would naturally go to the winner of the former. Yesterday was a tramite. We should thank our lucky stars we hung on to three states.

    • Last Sunday’s results allow us to look back at 2004 and reassess:

      1) In 2004 the large abstention was blamed mainly on the opposition crying fraud but unable to back it up. As true as that may have been then, it can’t be the case now. This time around abstention can only be the result of a combination of disappointment, defeatism and indifference regarding regional elections. I suspect that even though the effect of crying fraud on abstention may have been significant in 2004, disappointment and indifference were a much more important factor in the levels of abstention.

      Why is this important? because since 2004, the opposition has been reluctant to criticize the CNE for fear of putting off voters. Thus allowing the CNE to get away with all kind of abuses without much contest.

      2) Just like in 2004, although a large portion of voters still dutifully came out and voted again for their candidate, another large portion just didn’t see the point or didn’t consider the new election to be important. Call it defeatism, disappointment, indifference. And just like then, the opposition candidates were simply not able to convey the necessary message to motivate people to come out and vote again.

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