Title: Uncertainty Looms as Venezuelan Opposition Heads Towards Crucial Primaries
Date: July 4, 2023
As Venezuela gears up for its upcoming primaries on October 22, the opposition is facing a challenging and uncertain political landscape. Political analysts have pointed out that the opposition is more divided than ever and needs to unite to capitalize on the discontent among Venezuelans after years of crisis.
According to experts Luis Vicente León and Griselda Colina, only three out of the 14 candidates registered for the primaries have significant popular support: former deputy María Corina Machado, former governor Henrique Capriles, and former legislator Carlos Prosperi. The rest of the candidates have support below 1%.
However, Machado and Capriles have been disqualified from holding public office due to the Comptroller’s opinion. This leaves Prosperi, the least favored candidate, with some negotiations opportunities. León believes that negotiations are inevitable within the anti-Chavismo camp as well as between the opposition and the government of Nicolás Maduro.
The development of the primaries itself poses unanswered questions, such as the voting location, which is yet to be defined by the National Primary Commission (CNP). Additionally, the institutions involved, which are perceived to be close to the government, are allegedly trying to disrupt the process as observed by Colina, a substitute electoral rector.
Colina views the disqualifications and recent dissolution of the electoral entity as maneuvers by the government to divert the opposition from the electoral route and perpetuate the idea that voting is useless. She believes that the majority of the country wants a peaceful change, and expressing this through voting is important.
León summarizes the electoral strategy of Chavismo, the ruling party, as “divide and abstain.” However, in order to put an end to Chavismo, the opposition needs to manage expectations and speak truthfully to the country. It is crucial for the primary candidates to inform voters that, unless a political agreement emerges, the presidential election will not be competitive.
In Venezuela’s fluid political landscape, anything is possible. The situation is dynamic and rapidly changing, making it challenging to predict the future. New disqualifications, promotions, demotions, divisions, and unions are all within the realm of possibilities for both Chavismo and the opposition.
Despite the unpopularity of Chavismo, assuming that President Nicolás Maduro would be incapable of winning an election in 2024 would be a mistake. León points out that there are numerous factors that, if aligned, could allow Maduro to be re-elected without voter tampering.
As the country heads towards the crucial primaries, the opposition faces a daunting task of navigating the complexities and uncertainties. It remains to be seen how the primaries will unfold and what impact they will have on the future of Venezuela.