The essential: the unitary candidate

The essential: the unitary candidate

Since it was announced, the regime has unleashed a frontal attack against the primary organized by the most important elements of the opposition gathered in the Unitary Platform (PU), to select the candidate who will represent it in the 2024 presidential elections.

The procedures of the attack are varied: it disqualifies and threatens the members of the National Primary Commission (CNP); It ridicules and makes consultation invisible in the hundreds of media outlets it controls; accuses it of being an illegal process; disqualifies the candidates who have the greatest popular support and have the greatest chance of succeeding; prevents the National Electoral Council from supporting it with its technology and with the electoral centers, despite the fact that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela has made use and abuse of that organization, of those same facilities and of the public media, to promote its internal proselytizing events; he uses squires to go to the Supreme Court of Justice with the aim of outlawing the consultation and several of its participants; and, of course, attacks the candidates and their followers at the events they organize in different cities of the country. Of course the list is longer.

This bombardment of the opposition only occurs in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, the three most aggressive models of left-wing authoritarianism. In other Latin American nations led by left-wing governments, the political dynamics linked to opposition sectors unfold within a civilized environment. In Mexico, a process has just concluded in which the opposition to Andrés Manuel López Obrador chose his candidate without interference from the government. It was the National Renewal Movement (Morena), led by AMLO, the political group that faced the greatest internal difficulties in selecting the president’s successor. In Argentina, the entire political spectrum participated without incident in the Open, Simultaneous and Mandatory Primaries (PASO), an event in which the different organizations and movements elected their candidates for the different positions of popular representation. In most of Latin America, respectful coexistence – albeit with inevitable tensions and clashes – between the government and the opposition became part of daily political dynamics. In Argentina, Peronism – stuck in the skin of that society – does not destroy the opposition, even if it encounters adversaries as bitter and opposing as Mauricio Macri or Javier Milei. In Venezuela nothing similar happens with Maduro and his people. This clique does not consider his competitors as adversaries worthy of challenging him for popular support, but rather as enemies who lack the right to have the support of citizens at the voting booths, and who must be destroyed.

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The most likely thing is that the primary will be invalidated by one of the capricious arguments put forward by the agents of the regime; or that the promise to prevent María Corina Machado, who leads the main opinion polls, from registering as an official candidate is fulfilled. The same could happen with Henrique Capriles or Freddy Superlano, the other two candidates disqualified by Elvis Amoroso, the current president of the CNE. In reality, the risk of being “illegalized” is borne by all competitors and the primary itself.

Faced with this scenario, the opposition has to be prepared. It seems right to me that in the current situation the primary continues to advance. That the disqualified candidates remain in the running and that the entire process goes as if we were in Switzerland. It is not up to the CNP to veto the participation of leaders disqualified by an illegal decision of the Comptroller’s Office; or that those affected give up traveling the country denouncing the regime for its arbitrariness and authoritarianism. Politics is exercised in the midst of confrontation. Today the primary constitutes the main stage of the fight between the government and its adversaries.

If the regime ends up making the primary illegal, among the alternatives that the Unitary Platform would have to consider to face the violation, is selecting a candidate by a means other than that option. It is known that the Primary has the greatest popular support. However, voters will understand that the alliance did everything possible to present a democratically elected candidate, but was prevented by the regime’s tight control over state institutions. The alternative formula could be that of consent based on the statistical information provided by a group of previously selected pollsters. The recipe was already tested in Venezuela in 2006, and has been used in recent years in various countries, including Mexico.

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Some will say that the candidate chosen by consensus could also be disqualified. It’s true. Daniel Ortega has resorted to that practice. Maduro must be tested to see how far he will go. The international scenario favors relatively transparent elections in Venezuela. The key is that the PU presents a unitary candidate. The method is located in the background. Will the PU have the maturity to lucidly face that possibility? We will see.


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