July 8, 2004

Let's get to real business...

The deep philosophical divide that exists between Chavez supporters and opponents on CC, is probably analogous to the divide between Chavez supporters and opponents more broadly. Intense debate and disagreement within society and among politicians plays a role in all democracies. The ability to negotiate and compromise is the key ingredient that separates functional democracies from disfunctional democracies or democracies at risk of breakdown. In a functional democracy, opposing factions do not have to agree with one another, they do not need to have much respect for one another, they do not need to like one another, but they must be able to reach compromised solutions on basic issues. If compromises cannot be reached, the divisions will at best lead to major political and social turmoil that paralyzes the country and at worst result in civil war.

I propose that we discuss on Caracas Chronicles some immediately pressing issues, which could determine the credibility of the referendum on President Chavez's presidency. If the referendum process is perceived as credible, then no matter what the outcome Venezuelans will overwhelming accept the result, whether they are ecstatic with it or whether the result makes them sick to their stomach. On the other hand, if the referendum process lacks credibility, the social and political unrest that follows could be very dangerous. With this in mind, I propose three topics for discussion:

1. What role should international observers play and which observers should be invited?
2. Should the international observers be permitted to do a parallel count as a check on the CNE?
3. Should the government, opposition, and international observers perform an audit of the voting machines and software prior to the vote, and should they perform an audit of the results after the vote?

Cristina Toro