Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Majorities and Coups in Venezuela

In Venezuela there is apparently a new definition of "coup."

"Mayoría es mayoría y debe respetarse en democracia, no se pueden buscar emboscadas, inventos para vulnerar la soberanía popular (...) eso sólo tiene un nombre: golpismo. Quien pretende vulnerar la mayoría en la democracia lo que está es llamando a un golpe", dijo durante el discurso que pronunció Maduro en el acto de proclamación ante el Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE).

So a "coup" refers to questioning the majority, and that includes asking for a recount. We can hark back to the famous Federalist 10, written by James Madison:

Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

Henrique Capriles may have no case. But asking for a recount is reasonable, whereas the idea that merely asking for it equates to trying to overthrow the government is not.


Justin Delacour 1:22 PM  

I agree that the mere act of asking for a recount does not qualify an opposition leader as a golpista. However, there are a lot of important details you're leaving out here. Capriles began cultivating the notion that a fraud was taking place even before the official tally came in. As I'm sure you know, he sent out a tweet suggesting as much before the official results were announced, despite the fact that there is very little evidence to suggest that this kind of fraud is possible in Venezuela's electoral system. His campaign was also leaking these so-called "audits" suggesting that he had won before the results were in. Now, to be sure, these actions don't necessarily make him a "golpista" either, but they arguably reflect some questionable judgement on his part. Knowing full well that such high-profile charges could lead to violence on the part of his supporters in such a polarized political environment, he went ahead and made the charges anyway, with very little real evidence to sustain them.

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