The disaster that the Venezuelan opposition has experienced in recent months has placed less traditional leaderships, even unthinkable some time ago, at the forefront of the race for the primaries on October 22 to choose the candidate who will face Nicolás Maduro in the presidential elections of 2024. A politician from the most conservative and radical spectrum, María Corina Machado, and the comedian Benjamín Rausseo, best known for his character Er Conde del Guácharo, lead the intentions of votes among opponents in different opinion polls. This occurs when 66.2% of those surveyed in January by More Consulting describe the situation in the country as bad.
The opposition is trying to rebuild itself after having made it difficult for the government to leave in the last three years with the international siege and sanctions, a struggle in which the coalition ended up even more fragmented. The primary process starts, however, with a 30% willingness to participate among opponents and non-aligned, in a scenario in which the Government has lost the strength it achieved during the first seven months of 2022, when it managed to keep the economy stable. . Maduro still retains between 26 and 30% approval ratings, far from his worst years of popularity.
The composition of the country defined by the More Consulting survey draws 43.4% non-aligned, 31.5% opponents and 25.1% followers of the ruling party. Among all, 86% want a political change. At the start of the primary race, Venezuelans express their rejection of traditional politicians. Machado has managed to rank first among opponents and non-aligned, in the opinion of Luis Vidal, director of More Consulting, because “people do not attribute responsibility to him for the mistakes” made by the opposition leadership that has been in charge in recent years. “She is very solid in a group that shares her ideas, but her growth ceiling is low, and she will not be able to grab many votes from the non-aligned, from those who are disappointed by Chavismo or from those who are obstinate in confrontation,” Add.
The economist and political analyst Luis Vicente León, managing partner of the Datanalisis firm, assures that for the moment there is a measurement of small candidates, but it is still difficult to point to one who really leads. “The primary election will be won by whoever can found alliances, more than candidates here there are blocs of opinion. A moderate political sector, of various degrees, of enormous size, which includes Manuel Rosales, Capriles, and Acción Democrática. María Corina is the leader of the radical group, and she has been growing, without a doubt. Juan Guaidó will also seek alliances around his figure”.
The actuary and statistics specialist Félix Seijas, from the Delphos firm, and Jesús Seguías, director of the Datincorp firm, also recognize that Machado makes his way with unusual clarity in numbers. “Machado has many personal attributes and has grown in our polls,” says Seguías. “But he has a modest percentage, still, about 17 points. He is capitalizing on enormous discontent over the failure of the interim government. His radical stance puts a ceiling on his candidacy. The vast majority of the country wants a natural outcome, by peaceful means, that international sanctions be repealed.
For Seijas, Machado has strategically maintained his position these years: to be on the sidelines, in the radical sector. “The failure of the G4 brings her an opportunity and she is softening her speech to present herself as an alternative. She has chances”. In the electorate there is an environment similar to that of the 1990s, when the figure of Hugo Chávez emerged. “There is disappointment, society seems to be looking for something new. Although she is not, strictly speaking, none outsider”.
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that place of outsider it could be held by Er Conde del Guácharo, a lawyer, show businessperson, musician and comedian who already flirted with politics as a presidential candidate in 2006, when Chávez was in his prime, a race from which he eventually withdrew and then ran again. for a gubernatorial position and only obtained 4% of the vote. León attributes the flight that Rausseo has taken, “to an irreverent sector, which needs a punishment for formal politics, which is looking for a character to vent its anger”. “But he is not a statesman, he is not Macron, but an extravagant character, like Cicciolina, Volodimir Zelensky himself. But that segment can grow, ”he adds.
This game board with which the cycle towards the primaries begins is not an expression of anti-politics, says Vidal. “Venezuelans are very willing to vote, they are not depoliticized, but now it seems that they are more selective in the fights they are going to give.”
This week, the same day the date of the primaries was announced, Nicolás Maduro participated in the program with the mallet giving of Diosdado Cabello, from where the political operator of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela dictates guidelines that tend to cause chaos in the opposition. The heads of Chavismo did not avoid the subject of the primaries and ventured to predict that they would not take place. “I said from the first moment that there will be no primaries here. This is a way to save time. My predictions are without trick or trick, “said Cabello. to which Maduro agreed.
“The government will put obstacles to anything that helps the opposition to consolidate a platform that can look convincing,” says Seijas. “The election of a leader clearly strengthens the options of the opposition, and Chavismo needs the dispersion of the leadership. Successful primaries would mean that, and that is what Chavismo wants to avoid. The opposition has to play smart.” In the speech, at least, Maduro seems to have withdrawn his gestures of breadth and during the same conversation with Cabello this week he assured that there were no reasons to return to the negotiating table in Mexico, where the opposition is bidding for better conditions to compete electorally. .
The incorporation of the National Electoral Council to the holding of the primaries will be a decisive factor in the career and in the evolution of the leadership of María Corina Machado, who is opposed to the institution being part of the internal process. The Government could give logistical support to the primaries with the CNE and this would devastate Machado in the lead, an option that has begun to sound strong in popular sectors. Self-managed elections by the opposition imply a large and complex logistical effort, which compromises participation. And there the opposition is faced with a new dilemma. Although the government continues to have a majority rejection, in the face of a possible political change in Venezuela, the possibilities of the opposition getting stuck in its fragmentations are everywhere.
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