Monday, April 15, 2013

Venezuela Election Aftermath

So that happened. Conventional wisdom was that Nicolás Maduro would defeat Henrique Capriles but by a smaller margin than what Hugo Chávez achieved in 2012, and that's what we saw, albeit with a really slim margin (50.7%-49.1%). Capriles is calling for a recount, but as yet I've heard no specific accusations of systematic fraud so it seems unlikely that a recount would change the outcome. Francisco Toro at Caracas Chronicles says otherwise, but as of now there's nothing specific. Stay tuned on that.

As for implications, the first thing that comes to mind is that this margin shows that Madurow will have to shore up support very quickly. I've argued at Americas Quarterly that he would have to downplay ALBA to focus resources more on his domestic constituencies. There are signs that he wants to normalize relations with the United States, but he will find it very hard to resist waving imperialist red meat to keep up nationalist enthusiasm. It's not at all clear how long he can milk the "son of Chávez" message.

Along similar lines, given the margin I have to figure the opposition will soon start talking about a recall. From Article 72 of the constitution:

Artículo 72. Todos los cargos y magistraturas de elección popular son revocables.Transcurrida la mitad del período para el cual fue elegido el funcionario o funcionaria, un número no menor del veinte por ciento de los electores o electoras inscritos en la correspondiente circunscripción podrá solicitar la convocatoria de un referendo para revocar su mandato. Cuando igual o mayor número de electores y electoras que eligieron al funcionario o funcionaria hubieren votado a favor de la revocatoria, siempre que haya concurrido al referendo un número de electores y electoras igual o superior al veinticinco por ciento de los electores y electoras inscritos, se considerará revocado su mandato y se procederá de inmediato a cubrir la falta absoluta conforme a lo dispuesto en esta Constitución y la ley.

Halfway through would be three years, so this isn't coming soon.

My hunch is that conventional wisdom (outside Chavista camps anyway) will shift toward the idea that this victory marks the beginning of decline, so in the long-term is more loss than win. Chavistas, meanwhile, will see the outcome as this, which is making its way all over Twitter (link to original tweet):

It's a landslide!!

For other election thoughts see Colin Snider, Boz, David Smilde.


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