1676811512 The radical Maria Corina Machado or the comedian Rausseo lead

The radical María Corina Machado or the comedian Rausseo lead the start of the race for the opposition primaries in Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado last January.Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado, last JanuaryGABY ORAA (Portal)

The catastrophe experienced by the Venezuelan opposition in recent months has put less traditional leaders at the forefront of the October 22 primary race, which some time ago would have been unthinkable to choose the candidate standing in the presidential elections A politician from the most conservative and radical spectrum, María Corina Machado, and comedian Benjamín Rausseo, best known for his character Er Conde del Guácharo, lead the voting intentions among opponents in various opinion polls. This happens when 66.2% of those surveyed by More Consulting in January describe the situation in the country as bad.

The opposition is trying to rebuild after making it difficult for the government to withdraw with the international siege and sanctions over the past three years, a struggle that has left the coalition even more fragmented. However, the primary process begins with 30% participation among Opponents and Non-Aligned in a scenario where the government has lost the strength it gained in the first seven months of 2022 when it managed to stabilize the economy hold . . . Maduro still maintains between 26% and 30% approval ratings, a far cry from his worst years of popularity.

The composition of the country defined by the More Consulting poll shows 43.4% non-aligned, 31.5% opponents and 25.1% supporters of the ruling party. 86% want political change. At the beginning of the primary campaign, Venezuelans express their rejection of traditional politicians. Machado, according to Luis Vidal, director of More Consulting, managed to get first place among opponents and non-aligned because “people don’t blame him for the mistakes” made by the opposition leadership in office for the past few years. “She’s very solid in a group that shares her ideas, but her growth bar is low, and she won’t be able to garner many votes from the non-aligned, from those disappointed with Chavismo, or from those who are stubborn are to win confrontation,” he added.

The economist and political scientist Luis Vicente León, managing partner of the company Datanalisis, assures that at the moment there is a measurement of small candidates, but it is still difficult to name one who really leads. “Whoever can form alliances will win the primaries, there are more opinion blocks here than candidates. A moderate political sector of varying degrees of enormous size, which includes Manuel Rosales, Capriles and Acción Democrática. María Corina is the leader of the radical group and she has undoubtedly grown. Juan Guaidó will also seek alliances around his character.”

Actuarial and statistics specialist Félix Seijas of the law firm Delphos and Jesús Seguías, director of the law firm Datincorp, also acknowledge that Machado is going his way with unusual numerical clarity. “Machado has many personal traits and has grown in our polls,” says Seguías. “But he still has a modest percentage, like 17 points. He is benefiting from the enormous dissatisfaction with the failure of the interim government. His radical stance limits his candidacy. The vast majority of the country wants a natural outcome through peaceful means that international sanctions are lifted.

For Seijas, Machado has maintained his position strategically throughout these years: being on the sidelines, in the radical sector. “The failure of the G4 gives them an opportunity and they soften their speech to present themselves as an alternative. He has opportunities.” The electoral environment is similar to that of the 1990s, when the character of Hugo Chávez emerged. “There is disappointment, society seems to be looking for something new. Although strictly speaking it is not an outsider.”

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That outsider position could be filled by Er Conde del Guácharo, a lawyer, show business executive, musician and comedian who was already flirting with politics as a presidential candidate in 2006 when Chávez was at his best, a competition from which he eventually withdrew and then ran for one again governor position and received only 4% of the vote. León attributes the escape that Rausseo took “to a disrespectful sector that needs punishment for formal politics, that is looking for a figure to vent its anger”. “But he’s not a statesman, he’s not Macron, but a flamboyant character, like Cicciolina, Volodimir Zelensky himself. But this segment can grow,” he adds.

This game board, with which the cycle to the primary elections 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 fight.”

threatened primaries

This week, on the same day that the date of the primary elections was announced, Nicolás Maduro had a participation in the program Con el mazo dando by Diosdado Cabello, in which the political operator of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela dictates policies that usually cause chaos found .in contradiction. Chavismo leaders did not sidestep the issue of the primary, daring to predict that it would not happen. “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. which Maduro agreed to.

“The government will obstruct anything that helps the opposition to consolidate a platform that can look convincing,” says Seijas. “Electing a leader clearly strengthens the opposition’s options, and Chavismo needs leadership to disperse. Successful primary elections would mean that, and that’s what Chavismo wants to avoid. The opponent has to play smart.” In speech, at least, Maduro seems to have scaled back his gestures of expansiveness, assuring in the same conversation with Cabello this week that there are no reasons to return to the negotiating table in Mexico, where the opposition is asking for better terms compete in elections. .

The involvement of the National Electoral Council in the holding of the primaries will be a crucial factor in the career and development of the leadership of María Corina Machado, who opposes the institution being part of the internal process. The government could logistically support the primary with the CNE, and that would crush Machado at the helm, an option that sounds strong in popular sectors. Self-governing opposition elections involve a large and complex logistical effort that hamper participation. And here the opposition faces a new dilemma. Although the government continues to face majority opposition, there is a possibility that the opposition will remain fragmented in the face of possible political change in Venezuela.

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