Insanity, Albert Einstein is said to have written in Letters to Solovine, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Teodoro Petkoff writes in today’s Tal Cual that the Mesa Democrática Unitaria (the latest incarnation of the Coordinadora Democrática) is “clarifying the electoral panorama” ahead of the National Assembly elections scheduled for 26 September 2010.
Petkoff says that opposition candidates will be chosen by primaries in 30 of 87 electoral circuits nationally. But two other sources with a deeper knowledge of how Venezuela’s electoral system is structured tell Caracas Gringo that primaries will be held in 22 or 23 electoral circuits, from which 30 opposition candidates will be chosen.
In effect, opposition candidates will be chosen by primaries in about 25% of the country’s electoral circuits. Opposition candidates in the other 75% of electoral circuits will be chosen by consensus; i.e. in backroom, closed-door horse-trading where sharp elbows will abound.
Petkoff says the color of the cat’s fur doesn’t matter as long as the cat is able to catch mice. If nomination by unity consensus doesn’t work, then primaries will be used, he adds.
Separately, Omar Barboza, the Zulia-based president of the opposition Un Nuevo Tiempo party, tells Universal that the opposition is going to win big in the upcoming National Assembly elections.
It is worthwhile recalling that Barboza is the jam between the toes of Manuel Rosales, who now lives in Peruvian exile after President Hugo Chavez ordered the attorney general to lynch him politically on fabricated corruption charges. If the color white denotes purity and integrity, Barboza is dark grey at best.
It is also worthwhile recalling that in the last presidential elections, the triumvirate of Petkoff, Rosales and Julio Borges (the political offspring of Rafael Caldera’s disarticulated Copei party) decided among themselves and behind closed doors that Rosales would be the opposition presidential candidate – and the people’s will be damned.
The history behind that process, as recounted to Caracas Gringo by a half-dozen sources who worked at very senior levels with this pathetic trio, is that Rosales was “nominated” by three-way “consensus” after polls commissioned separately by Rosales, Borges and Petkoff confirmed that Borges and particularly Petkoff had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning more than single-digit support at the polls.
Rosales ran a lousy election campaign characterized by permanent infighting between his Zulia-based inner circle of advisers and other advisers that were not from Zulia. Professional political strategists who worked with the Rosales campaign say its inner-workings on a day-to-day basis resembled a drunken brawl inside a bawdy house. Backstabbing abounded.
Not surprisingly, Rosales got his butt kicked in the last presidential elections, and subsequently was hounded into exile by the regime. Petkoff returned to his full-time occupation of pretending to be a European-style moderate socialist while simultaneously carrying water for the regime. Borges became as irrelevant politically as Eduardo “Pussycat” Fernandez.
Now Venezuela is preparing again for legislative elections. Chavez already has defined the benchmark for his PSUV party: The revolution must win at least three-quarters of the seats in competition, or all is lost. But, typically, Chavez is playing his tried and true game of electoral rope-a-dope.
Chavez isn’t afraid of losing the National Assembly elections. After all, he holds all the institutional aces under both sleeves. Chavez de facto controls the Supreme Court, the National Electoral Council, and the Attorney General of the Republic.
Chavez also owns the National Assembly, even if Ismael Garcia of Podemos and the intelligent communists in the regime (Patria Para Todos) are pretending, respectively, to be in the opposition or independent of whatever Chavez wants for his PSUV slate of candidates. What this means is that, even if Chavez “loses” the legislative elections, his lame duck legislature still can change the rules of the game to favor the regime.
The reality of this electoral chess game is that the opposition has no real options or moves capable of checkmating Chavez. But Chavez has numerous options and moves he can put into play whenever it becomes convenient or necessary. For example:
*The Council of Ministers (i.e. Chavez and his top gangsters) can approve a decree to hold a new Constitutional Assembly. This would allow Chavez to finish writing his Socialist (i.e. Chavez forever) Constitution. The “oppo” would be allowed to gain some token presence in the new Constitutional assembly, but a chavista majority would ramrod a new Red Magna Carta tailored to the president’s whims down the people’s throats.
*A presidential recall referendum is also a possibility, if Chavez can persuade some in the opposition to buy into this scheme. Alternatively, Chavez could mobilize his PSUV to seek a recall referendum. Since the start of 2010, Chavez has urged his foes to seek a new recall referendum at least seven times. If he succeeds, and then “wins” (which is likely considering he controls the CNE and Supreme Court), Chavez could claim again that his six-year term as president starts after he wins the referendum, extending his “constitutional” mandate to end-2016 or end-2017.
*Rig the results of September’s legislative elections. Chavez owns the CNE and Supreme Court. The CNE could “cook” the data to ensure a Chavez/PSUV victory. It wouldn’t be the first, second or even third time that the CNE engages in Bolivarian arithmetic where 2 – 1 = 5.
*Suspend the legislative elections indefinitely due to the current national security crisis created by the power crisis. The power emergency decree issued by Chavez on 8 February already is based on articles of the Constitution which can be invoked to suspend all constitutional guarantees and implement a “state of exception” until the economic crisis is over. Since Venezuela faces at least three years, and possibly over five years, of continuing power deficits that will impact on everyone and everything, Chavez could perpetuate his presidency until 2013 to 2015. Who will protest? Certainly not the OAS, the United States, Unasur or anyone else. With 52% of US voters already telling liberal-slanted pollsters that President Barack Obama should not be re-elected to a second term in 2012, the White House has bigger fish to fry.
*Hold the legislative elections on schedule, but change the rules of the game if the outcome doesn’t favor Chavez and his gangsters. This happened in the last gubernatorial and municipal elections. Ask Antonio Ledezma, who won the elections as Mayor of Greater Caracas and then was defunded by the central government. Every opposition figure who won in those elections has been sabotaged and undermined by the regime.
*Alternatively, call a 350, invoking the Constitution to disavow every law, regulation and anything else which inconveniences the Chavez regime. The Supreme Court, which is all Chavez all the time, will back the president’s play in a heartbeat. And any judges with the cojones to demur on legal/constitutional grounds will be arrested and jailed on presidential orders. Ask the judge who freed Eligio Cedeno on legitimate legal/constitutional grounds and now sits in a women’s prison surrounded by violent female criminals.
Of course, there’s always the strikeout scenario: one strike, two strikes, three strikes and ponchao!
Strike One: The national power grid collapses sometime in April or May.
Strike Two: No electricity = no potable water. The government has already announced that anyone who consumes too much water will be levied stiff surcharges on their monthly bills. Water rationing is, de facto, under way.
Strike Three: A serious food supply shortage grows to critical proportions nationally. No power = no refrigeration capacity = putrid perishables.
The strikeout scenario brings Venezuela full circle back to a national crisis option that justifies the indefinite suspension of constitutional guarantees, and Chavez checkmates the opposition.