Monday, May 21, 2018

Venezuela Has No Path Forward

The official results according to the Consejo Nacional Electoral:

Nicolás Maduro: 67.7%
Henri Falcon: 21.2%
Javier Alejandro Bertucci: 15.9%
Reinaldo José Quijada Cerdone: 0.4%
Turnout: 46.1%

Turnout in the 2013 presidential election was about 80%. Reporters yesterday showed a lot of empty polling places in Caracas, as many disillusioned Venezuelans stayed home.

What now? Well, nothing. The results came quickly, so there was no obvious sign of internal discontent or military rumblings. The core of the regime is holding up so there will be no change. Maduro clearly has no plans--his many speeches talk of transformations and revolutions that have no form or substance. The economy is crashing and he is mostly just watching it, spending reserves as he sinks more into a morass of debt. Oil production has been falling for a long time and although increasing prices (which may go up more thanks to Trump's Venezuela policy) give him a lifeline, they can only take him so far.

If elections do not function democratically (Geoff Ramsey at WOLA has a nice summary of all the problems), the regime is reasonably united while the opposition is not, the military is either loyal or deserting, and dialogue achieves nothing, then there is little to be done. The certain response is enhanced sanctions, but they will mostly immiserate the Venezuelan population.

The most likely outcome is more poverty, more blustering, more emigration, more suffering and disease. Regime insiders will get rich. Maybe the military becomes discontent enough to force change but there is no sign of that now.


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