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Friday, September 21, 2012

Chavez 55 - Capriles 45

My friend Mick in Venezuela sent the following analysis of the coming election. I believe it's highly accurate, therefore am re-publishing it here:

Capriles to a certain extent is having his policies (or at least those he shares with the public) defined by the era of Chavez. The message of Raw Capitalism tooth and claw is unpalatable for the majority in this country. In the way that Thatcher defined the policies of New Labour, Capriles at least in public is compelled to declare his support for Social Democracy, the Misiones etc., because Chavez maintains a high level of popular support and many people in this country have become accustomed to (Romney would say "dependent on") state intervention. 

Capriles cannot directly threaten to overthrow the new order in its entirety. Chavism has offered a roadmap towards - if not yet created the reality of - a type of South American socialist cradle to grave welfare, with strong nationalist characteristics, that simultaneously proposes a trans-nationalist/regional identity located within the desire to strengthen a multi-polar international order. This is manna from heaven for the historically-excluded, materially less well off, invariably coloured/black/indigenous/mestizo majority. 


Capriles comes from a wealthy elite composed almost exclusively of the traditional ruling class (i.e. the financial heirs of Spanish colonisation and post-Independence dictatorship). Their numbers were deliberately bolstered (by dictator Jimenez) in the post-WW2 period by a large influx of immigrants from Italy and Spain, in order to "whiten the blood". In total they probably number around 30% of the population, and they uniformly despise Chavez on racial, ethnic and socio-economic grounds. Hence it is not such a difficult task to create unity in an opposition that shares this common hatred. Evidently this unity is fragile in practice, with so many leaders of so many parties jostling to get their noses in the troughs and exert their authority over their own political and economic feifdoms. A case of too many Caciques and not enough Indians (sorry!!)

In order to win Capriles has to woo over disillusioned and lukewarm Chavistas, as well as a considerable number of Ni-Nis (neither with Chavez nor with Capriles). But overtly free market, small government, pro-Washington Consensus policies will certainly not achieve that end. So instead he has to promise to, in a sense, "manage socialism" better than Chavez does, while at the same time offering enough to his core middle and upper-class support to make sure they turn out on the day (their shared hatred of Chavez should see to that!). The question is: can Capriles win? 

I believe that the answer is No. The numbers are against him. People know what he is and what he represents. It is difficult for him to try and turn to the left, and the propaganda task of the Chavistas has been to constantly remind the people where Capriles does in fact come from (a very well-off media owning family). The poorer turkeys will not vote for Christmas. 

It is a question therefore of whether or not the Chavistas can get all of their people to the polling stations to deliver a victory sufficiently large enough to deter the defeated Radonski from claiming foul play and appealing to US supporters like ex-Ambassador Duddy to intervene. I believe that as the PSUV continues to increase its local organisational ability , and as the reforms promoting Consejo Comunales take hold and bring "socialism" closer to the base, the Rojos will make the pilgrimage to the polls. I predict a vistory of around 55% - 45% for Chavez.

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