Of consensus and primaries

outsideboxHere’s what we know so far about the MUD primaries for National Assembly nominations: they will happen on May 17th, and only in 38 out of 87 districts up for election.

Compared it to the previous parliamentary elections, we had primaries in 22 out of 87 district. The fact that there will be more primaries now is an improvement, but given the times, it is not enough. As you can see, all major voting centers will go without primaries.

This is a mistake.

Negotiated consensus and primaries are both fine ways to resolve conflicts. We can shake hands and agree who’ll do what without taking it outside. The problem with consensus is that, in an election, you achieve so much less than if you had primaries.

People in favor of negotiated consensus argue that primaries are expensive. In fact, the MUD is hinting that they have no money to put the primaries together.

Bollocks. The CNE has put together the event, and no one has ever paid for it, ever. Campaigns are expensive, yes, but the money you spend is not lost given than the actual election will occur only six months after. Money spent on the primary gives you name-recognition for the general.

Elections in Venezuela are about cut-throat campaigning. Candidates must assemble effective teams, be creative, resource-efficient, and above all, energetic. Campaigning is an 80 hour/week job. It is hard. Going through this process, we weed out the lazy candidates, and, oh boy, we have seen some lazy candidates backed by the MUD. Maximizing our chances of success by going through a selection process that tests possible candidates in doing what they’ll do on D-day … is ideal.

The other great thing for possible candidates and the primaries exercise is that they’ll build teams early on. They will try effective tactics. They get a practice run.

If a candidate fails to reach the electorate, then the consequence is that you’ll have another guy competing for the prize. With elections around the corner – September, say foreign chavistas – it gives you time to actually campaign and get to know your electorate. You spend primary season building your hardcore opposition support, and then you transition to capturing voters in the opposite camp. It allows you to split your campaigning strategy into two, well-defined distinct segments.

But the most important thing about primaries is the legitimacy they bring.

No one will contest your leadership because the people chose you to represent them. That’s powerful, the most basic essence of democracy. It has worked in the opposition before – nobody questioned Henrique Capriles’ legitimacy as leader of the opposition after he comfortably won his primary.

This is the fundamental thing that parties like VP and VENTE are promoting. When these folks go without primaries, people will see them as either contradicting themselves or worse, as hypocrites. Machado has attempted to straighten things, with little success so far.

So, if the benefits are so obvious why do we end up with this sub-par deal?

Simple, those sitting at the table making these decision lack legitimacy.

Regardless of their claims that these decisions were reached by consensus, the fact is that a majority inside the MUD decided to hold limited primaries, and people such as Machado and López were effectively silenced.

The powers that be seem to want to assure a post, but they fear the popular mandate. They want to fulfill their narrow-minded political agendas.

I don’t think this is the only factor. It pains me to say it, but I think laziness is also part of it. A big part.

The MUD still has time to right this ship. They should not claim that holding limited primaries was something everyone agreed to. And if that is the way it is going to be, efforts should be made to mend the rifts this decision has caused.

41 thoughts on “Of consensus and primaries

  1. Can’t we just reach out to them and say that just because they are the sane choice they don’t get to forego the healthy steps of democracy? Call them out in their bullshit? Online petition through MUD liaisons? To protest against them?
    It’s both our right and duty to try and correct the mess they are getting into.

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  2. Here are the results of a current poll on Noticiero Digital, a predominantly oppo news source.

    ¿Usted cree que debería haber primarias de la MUD en el 100% de las circunscripciones?

    Sí 76.3% (4,664 votes)

    No 16.52% (1,010 votes)

    Me da igual 7.18% (439 votes)

    Total Votes: 6,113

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  3. “No one will contest your leadership because the people chose you to represent them. That’s powerful, the most basic essence of democracy. It has worked in the opposition before – nobody questioned Henrique Capriles’ legitimacy as leader of the opposition after he comfortably won his primary.

    This is the fundamental thing that parties like VP and VENTE are promoting. When these folks go without primaries, people will see them as either contradicting themselves or worse, as hypocrites. Machado has attempted to straighten things, with little success so far.”

    They, VP and VV, are “promoting” that candidates attest leadership by winning primaries or electoral processes in general, yet they’re not participating in these particular primaries, or is it only Machado that isn’t participating and because of that she “attempted to straighten things, with little success so far.”?

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    • They are participating where available. It is kinda a long story on how this happened but it basically dates from the last table agreement and the process set forth by the MUD to make decisions a few years ago.

      That process implies a bunch old guys with no legitimacy making decisions such as this one. The results are, that VP was ignored and Vente excluded, and we get no primaries.

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    • The plot thickens:

      “Regardless of their claims that these decisions were reached by consensus, the fact is that a majority inside the MUD decided to hold limited primaries, and people such as Machado and López were effectively silenced.

      The powers that be seem to want to assure a post, but they fear the popular mandate. They want to fulfill their narrow-minded political agendas.

      I don’t think this is the only factor. It pains me to say it, but I think laziness is also part of it. A big part.”

      I hope Machado and Lopez who “were effectively silenced” can afford a less contrived explanation than yours about how their “lazy” coalition of opposition parties is interested in “fulfilling their narrow-minded political agendas” at the expense, I guess, of the opposition as a whole.

      I also hope that Machado and Lopez gave this explanation before you and others did.

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  4. Rodrigo, while I agree with a lot of the comments you make into why primaries are good. Primaries also have the potential to:
    1) split very strongly your base
    2) end up with radicals that are unelectable in a general election

    these two are very common and big problems which you fail to highlight in your analysis. These are most problematic when the time between the primaries and the general elections short because it makes it more difficult for the elected candidate to make the necessary changes to solve the negative consequences both can have.

    While I don’t necessarily think that the MUD considered these I do think that your article should have pointed them out, otherwise you are just showing the positive side of primaries.

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    • I would argue that unity has no electoral value in the 8-10 bluest middle-class districts of the country. If I were advising the MUD, I would let multiple candidacies in those districts for the election. It will act as an open primary, it would be democratica and will let the electoral economy to act as a conflict solver.

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      • Rodrigo,

        I understand primaries can serve as a mechanism for conflict resolution and for inclusion of those groups are not well represented in the way a ‘consensus’ is formed within the MUD. But I’m also worried the MUD body lacks the discipline to resist the inflicted wounds of an open primary season. The MUD ain’t no GOP or DEMS.

        I mean, the environment around the political in fight within the opposition has grown too vicious. I don’t know if the coalition can reunite after a season of mostly unfunded and completely uncalled heavy name calling between candidates. The level of the ‘debate’ between factions after La Salida was just unbearable.

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  5. Primaries have both good and bad aspects :

    1. they cost money which is in short supply .the CNE cant be relied upon to be generous where the oppo is concerned and in any event there will be costs it will not cover.
    2. In some cases they are unnecessary because there is one candidate that clearly stands out as the candidate for that area .
    3. where they are necessary because no one candidate stands out they, on the good side they can legitimize the best candidate which increases the chance of an oppo success , on the negative side they can foster animosities and rivalries which can hurt the oppo camps need for unity if the loser is a sore loser who makes noise to protest the results.
    4, For lots people in the oppo the all important inhouse rivalries between different parties are frivolous and indifferent because they will vote enthusiastically for any oppo candidate which is appointed from within the MUD.
    5. Lots of people in the oppo have no notion of who the candidates and arent intersted in the process at all so they follow route 4.
    6. Having primaries rallies part of the oppo making them more enthusiastic about participating directly in the parliamentary elections helping the oppo electoral effort.

    Pick and choose , there is plenty of arguments for everyone.!!

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    • Are they going to destroy the notebooks (cuadernos electorales) after the elections take place like they did last time? Can they guarantee they will be allowed to do so (last time the government almost got their hands on those cuadernos)?

      If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, then add a seventh bad aspect:

      7.- Who the hell in his (her) right mind is gonna go vote, knowing (after the recent waves of repression) that the government may (will?) go after him (her)?

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      • ” Who the hell in his (her) right mind is gonna go vote, knowing (after the recent waves of repression) that the government may (will?) go after him (her)?”

        I guess it’s out of the question for MUD to set up some kind of internal voting process where the gov’t won’t be able to get their hands on the voting lists? Something like a straw poll? It’s better than nothing.

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  6. Why waste time analyzing any of this? The next “elections” will be corrupted and stolen, Again. Whatever it takes for Chavismo Thieves to keep the coroto and keep on stealing.

    Many ways to steal an “election” in Vzla, the Chinese and the Dead will have brand new cedulas again. Even El Pajarito will vote.

    The people will have to overthrow Chavismo in the streets. And the the level of corruption and enchufadismo agudo, it will take even more inflacion, crimen, colas, escasez and crisis economica to piss them off.

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    • I would like to see those who have no access to dollars, get a bit more irritated.Those who are living comfortably will get exactly what they deserve eventually.

      We cannot pretend we live in a dictatorship and at the same time think we can win elections because that would mean that we live in a Democracy and what flows from that will be used against us in useful propganda by the International Lefties.

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      • Firepigette: Beyond your personal peeve with your facebook friends from Venezuela, who have access to dollar payments (as you do, outside of Venezuela), your ill-wishes for them, and your wish to see the dollar-have nots become “a bit more irritated”… how about being more constructive with all those ill wishes?

        In other words, care to provide a realistic strategy for those who have no access to dollars? And I realize your hate-mongering for those who have access to dollars (“the haves”), in Venezuela. But have you considered, perhaps including the haves for strengthening purposes, both groups living in, as you should have long known by now, a military-backed dictatorship that masquerades as a democracy?

        That type of constructiveness from you would be useful, rather than the repeated personal-peeve denigration. In the meantime, have you given thought to distributing some of your dollars to the dollar-have-nots in Venezuela? And please, no “I’m poor” spins from North Carolina. Gee, even that I-pad that you once gloated about having, might be appreciated by those who have so few electronic toys.

        Isn’t time for you to put money where your mouth is?

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    • Because those folks in the streets, in the scenario you just mentioned would be better organized if they had somebody to look for. Those persons you look for are typically those you elected.

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    • “Whatever it takes for Chavismo Thieves to keep the coroto and keep on stealing.”

      Hell, they are not even shy in admitting that you are right:

      http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/150307/isturiz-propuso-a-militancia-teoria-del-tractor-en-2015

      Quote:

      “El gobernador del estado Anzoátegui, Aristóbulo Istúriz, propuso a los militantes del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), aplicar de cara a los comicios legislativos, la “teoría del tractor”, que no es más que “ponerle piloto automático y lo que se nos atraviese, nos lo llevamos por el medio, sin importar nada”.

      Istúriz hizo la propuesta durante una jornada de trabajo del PSUV en Anzoátegui, donde fue designado vicepresidente para la región nororiental.

      “Desde aquí le estamos anunciado a la oposición que los bolivarianos, los chavistas y los revolucionarios no nos vamos a detener ante nada. Si le meten un botellazo al tractor, la botella se quiebra. Si nos mientan la madre, no los escuchamos, si nos llevamos por delante a un animalito, le pedimos perdón a la sociedad protectora de animales; pero jamás nos rendiremos”, agregó.”

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      • Si nos pidan abrir las actas en el 60% de los centros de votacion donde la oposicion no tendra testigos, pa’l carajo con ellos.

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    • By that logic we should do away with this blog altogether: it’s only a stale medium we’re like minded individuals echo themselves and occasionally a dividing piece brings us to friendly debate.

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  7. Primaries are a way to keep talanquera-jumper garbage like ricardo sánchez and heliodoro quintero from ever reaching a damn seat again.

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  8. “They want to fulfill their narrow-minded political agendas.”

    This describes most of the MUD. Parties that just want to keep in power while having little electoral support.

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  9. In the end, primaries are the mechanism to settle down differences between distinct parties under the MUD umbrella. After all, those same parties, specially the ones who deem this parliamentary circus-election to be the exit strategy for defeating chavismo wish to see a big turnout from their constituents at the general election in September, meaning that we the people, need warrants of legitimacy, something that is as scarse as toilet paper, diapers, shampoo, soap or even milk and cooking oil.

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  10. Again , you play with the cards you re dealt , if they arent optimal, too bad, you make he best use of whatever you have going for you and never give up. you dont give away elections , you dont surrender your vote , you force them to steal them from you ( if they can) , if you win great , if yu dont because of fraud , you fight the fraud , if still they dont recognize the fraud you shout it to the winds and look for other alternatives . the thing is that you use every nook or crany which you can to get through . if ultimately the streets are the only recourse left , then you use the streets , you choose the best most opportune time . YOU NEVER GIVE UP !! Im skeptical that they are as omnipotent as they make themselves to be , there are always chinks in the armour , there are limits to the kind of frauds they can perpetrate . Even a big oppo turn out demoralizes them and makes them more vulnerable . DONT LISTEN TO FATALISTIC POLYANNAS , they may be working for the regime . !!

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    • “Im skeptical that they are as omnipotent as they make themselves to be , there are always chinks in the armour , there are limits to the kind of frauds they can perpetrate .”

      Typically, when these types of regimes collapse, we discover that they were never as strong as we thought. Consider the collapse of the USSR… One day, it appeared invincible and the next it was discovered to be a rotting carcass that had collapsed of its own accord. To me, the more bombastic and strident are the pronouncements of the regime, the weaker they appear.

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  11. OT: The war of words heats up…

    https://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=dx7I0XDKpArbDcMP44jxy1KcORBZM&q=Venezuela&lr=English&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xsz9VNTpFpOxsATxkoKYAg&ved=0CB0QqgIwAA

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/09/usa-venezuela-idUSL1N0WB13U20150309

    http://www.larepublica.ec/blog/politica/2015/03/08/maduro-advierte-insurreccion-mundial-si-eeuu-toca-a-venezuela/

    I am critical of the U.S. for declaring Venezuela to be a “National Threat”. This was done to justify the use of Executive Order, but the use of this language was ill-considered, IMHO.

    Of course, compared to Maduro’s threat to ignite a “world-wide insurrection” it is pretty soft, but then the world is already numb to Marduro’s incendiary rhetoric.

    In any case, I sense that the U.S. calculation is that the regime is nearing its endgame.

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    • Over the mountain the ominous cloud, coming to cover the land in a shroud, hide in a bushell a basement a cave but when the cloud comes hunting no-one is safe.

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    • Oh my. We’d better pay attention to this one. Can you imagine what is being said/plotted behind closed doors right now? This really escalates things…..!

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      • I wish I could get the recordings of all those conversations. They would make for a great book, one day.

        As far as paying attention, that is all we can do. Events are in motion and we are now spectators.

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    • Seriously. What’s the point? Calling this regime a “national threat” is making them sound far more important than they are.

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      • Rory,

        As I understand it from reading between the lines, that designation is procedural. Under current statutes, this is necessary for the President to issue Executive Orders of this nature. So, it doesn’t really mean that they see the Venezuelan government as a direct security threat, but that destabilization of Venezuela and the resulting economic and social fallout in the region is a threat to U.S. security interests.

        But, I agree with you that this language gives an unintended substance to Maduros absurd claims of the U.S. being in involved in a plot against him. They avoided saying that in the press statement, but in the language of the Executive Order, they could not avoid it.

        I do wonder why the WH didn’t just ask the Congress to amend the existing sanctions bill… Did they really feel this couldn’t wait another week or so?

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  12. I do think that money is a big part of it and that it might represent an obstacle when organizing the primaries.

    But leaving money aside, I do not agree with the positive consequences of having primaries expressed here.

    The truth is that those confortable powers that might not want to go through the hassle of subjecting themselves to the hard work that is a primary election, are the ones behind the big parties. So the same people that are not actively and passionately seeking to change this horrible situation, the same ones that want power for the sake of power and get too confortable even with the little amount they have, have an effective machinery that guarantees they will prevail even in a hypothetical national primary election – except maybe in specific districts such as the one where Maria Corina intends to run.

    As hard as it might be, we have to realize that it is our responsibility to start promoting leaders that see power as a mean to something bigger – democracy, freedom. This whole conundrum of primaries or not primaries is not really the problem, it’s just another consequence.

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    • “As hard as it might be, we have to realize that it is our responsibility to start promoting leaders that see power as a mean to something bigger”

      I see two ways to do that. One is to argue for primaries and elect leaders that endorse the process.

      Or join political parties and make sure that they internally promote those ideals.

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  13. por dios pongan un mojon amarillo si quieren yo creo que el pueblo va preferir a un mojo amarillo o azul o naranja o a un mojon rojo lleno de sangre… como pierden el tiempo en cosas “normales de democracias” la cuestion esta en q si el cne se va a dar el lujo de decir q el publo voto por la hemorragia…

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