October 8, 2005

Election? What election?!

I find it amazing that, with less than two months to go, nobody but nobody seems to be talking about the December 4th National Assembly elections. If the opposition slate has a campaign, it must be one of the best kept secrets in Venezuela.

What little talk there is seems to be stuck in an endless, totally barren debate on the Elections Council. And it's no wonder: the one thing the oppo leadership succeeded at over the last year was in convincing their own supporters that CNE stole the recall referendum. Never mind that the "evidence" of electronic manipulation was circumstantial at best (more like entirely speculative, if you ask me), never mind that the oppo leadership had an obvious motivation to pass the buck after having bungled the RR campaign so badly. They spared no effort to trash CNE. They made their bed, now they get to lie on it.

The opposition leadership's big problem is no longer how to win over chavistas, but how to mobilize a base they've spent over a year demobilizing through their strident claims of fraud.

The tragic part is that all of this comes at a time when Chavez is again sliding in the polls, when the initial euphoria over the misiones has decidedly faded, when the government has launched a radical drive against private property that even chavistas reject, when increasing numbers of chavistas are dissatisfied with the government, when even Lina Ron and Ramon Machuca are getting restive...all of this at a time when a minimally organized, minimally competent election campaign could rock the chavista establishment to the core.

Instead, we'll get a qualified chavista majority in the AN that will waste no time amending the constitution to make Chavez endlessly re-electable.