One thing that I can't get my head around is this:
every person in Venezuela knows that the State is fully behind the candidate of the ruling party, i.e. chavismo. It was like that when Hugo Chavez was alive, and it continues to be so. All Venezuelan institutions are controlled by chavismo. The Armed Forces are squarely behind chavismo. All the monies of the State are controlled by chavismo. Four out of five directors of the National Electoral Council (CNE) are chavistas, not some inside-the-closet chavista, no, fully open and public. The Congress is controlled by chavismo. The Judiciary is but an appendix of chavismo. 21 out of 23 states are governed by chavistas. The State, directly or indirectly, controls a huge network of community radios, TV channels, and the country's most read newspapers (Ultimas Noticias and El Mundo). In addition to that, Venezuela's electoral roll has not been independently audited since 2005, and the Smartmatic electronic voting system was last independently audited in November 2005.
Despite all that, Henrique Capriles ran against Hugo Chavez last year, pretending that everything was kosher at the electoral level. At that time, one of his collaborators (Ramon Guillermo Aveledo) irresponsibly lied to his constituency, when he falsely claimed that the "electoral system had been sufficiently audited." This year Capriles ran against Nicolas Maduro, adopting a more confrontational tone. If electoral results are anything to go by, the combination of Chavez's passing with a deterioration of every day living and an attacking mode got Capriles a few thousand votes more and close to victory. That being said, arguments about Nicolas Maduro not having legitimacy to govern, because he got some 230,000 votes more than Capriles, is, frankly, preposterous. Unless, of course, the Capriles team present the smoking gun.
Maduro got more votes than Capriles, that's that, end of the story. You just can't enter a race, accepting that everything is stacked against you, and when you lose, turn round and say: "we do not recognise this result", as Capriles said yesterday. That is an untenable position, for Capriles knew, before entering the race, that everything was stacked against him. He knew that the State was fully behind Maduro. He knew Maduro's appointment was unconstitutional. He knew Maduro's every action, since January 10, was illegitimate. He knew that no public resource would be spared to get Maduro elected. And yet, he did participate, "hoping" that he would be victorious. Hoping? Read the first paragraph again. How could a victory be "hoped" when, as a matter of fact, the political realities described above have not changed? How can someone, knowing all of the above, enter a race and then cry foul calling the winner illegitimate? Why is Maduro illegitimate today, but wasn't when Capriles filed his candidacy? Capriles, and his team, should have done that earlier. Not today, not now. A proverbial case of "too little too late."
Utter nonsense. Appalling. Shameful. That's what it is. This is not a situation where two political parties share, in similar amounts, institutional and political power. Far from it. This is a situation where one party controls everything, and the other controls nothing, regardless of how many votes it got yesterday. Maduro does not need to invite Capriles for a round of hard political negotiations in order to reach a compromise that will allow him to govern Venezuela. No. This is no Cameron and Clegg. Rather, it is chavismo, as its usual self, pulling all power levers.
What to make of Capriles' own election as Governor of Miranda? The electoral scenario then was just as dodgy as it is today. Is he calling himself illegitimate? Furthermore, is he questioning the legitimacy of his own votes yesterday? How about other ruling governors, and mayors? How about the representatives of the opposition (in minority) in Congress, elected by the same system under the same conditions: are they illegitimate too?
Therefore I can not but express contempt for Henrique Capriles' irresponsible antics. He's not the brightest bulb all right, but even then, he's been in politics long enough to have realised that once the die is cast, there's no turning back.