More and more, it looks like the government’s gambit in disqualifying-but-not-quite-disqualifying Leopoldo López isn’t going to pan out.
As you’ll recall, in a genuinely weird decision the other day, the Supreme Tribunal ruled that López is fully entitled to run both in the opposition primary and in the General Election of 2012…but whether or not he is eligible to execute the office of the presidency is open to question and would have to be settled at a future date – presumably after Leopoldo has actually been elected president.
Listen, the legal tectonics here are beyond baffling, but the political reality is clear enough. Leopoldo can run. And, if he wins the election, there’s no realistic way the regime can stop him taking office.
I mean, try to imagine the political dynamics involved. It’s mid-November 2012, the country is still half-partying, half-morning the astounding CNE announcement from the early morning hours of October 8th when a visibly shaken Tibisay Lucena, struggling to hold back tears, announced that Candidate López had come in with 53% of the vote to Candidate Chávez’s 47%. The transition is well underway, the words “Leopoldo López” are universally preceded by the words “President-elect”…and in that atmosphere, Luisa Estela Morales is going to call out a press conference to announce she’s decided he can’t take office!?
I just don’t think a political equilibrium can be imagined where chavismo – led by an ailing or possibly dead Chávez – can keep its hold over the country after refusing to seat the guy who it admits won the election. They might try, but they’d never be able to manage the wave of dissent – military, civilian, domestic, international – they’d face. If LL wins, LL will govern.
Obviously, with this government, you can never tell. Maybe they’re hoping he wins the primary first so that, days later, the Supreme Tribunal can issue a clarification stating explicitly that he can’t take office, forcing the opposition to rally behind the “loser”. Or maybe they’ll issue that clarification a week before the election, after the ballots are printed. Who can tell? Personally, I don’t believe in flying cockroaches, pero de que vuelan vuelan.
On the face of it, though, the government’s gambit hasn’t worked. At this point, what we know is that the guy can run. And the guy will run. The guy’s opponents welcome him running. And if he wins, he will govern.
And that’s is as it should be.