The campaign for president of the republic kicked off just as article 233 of the constitution establishes. This isn’t just another campaign though, or at least it’s totally atypical to previous ones. First of all, because it was convened as a result of the absolute absence of the president; secondly, it is the first time that Chavismo will go to vote without Hugo Chavez on the ballot paper; and lastly, because it obliged political parties to reach an agreement (in record time) in terms of their candidates.
Their choices shouldn’t surprise anyone in politics. Chavez himself, in his last public speech, called on his followers to support Nicolas Maduro as presidential candidate of the revolution, in case, for a supervening reason, he couldn’t continue. That is, Hugo Chavez called on the democratic-political forces of the country to take precautions in case of his absence.
This event was the go ahead for political parties to imagine new electoral scenarios. The first task was to have a candidate who was capable of creating consensus among the sector they represented, as well as someone who wanted to take on the titanic task.
For Chavismo, Chavez himself resolved the problem, when he nominated Nicolas Maduro as his candidate, if he wouldn’t be able to go on. For the opposition though, they had barely started to touch on the issue, shyly, and were surprised by the announcement of 5 of March [that Chavez had passed away]. However, the parties of AD and Copei had pressured the [opposition coalition] the MUD to rigorously enter into the dilemma at the start of the year.
However, at the same time, and silently, they (AD and Copei) advanced in pushing for a single ticket as a symbol of the opposition on the ballot paper, as well as for the active participation of opposition sectors excluded by the “Extra-MUD” in the 7 October campaign. [Translator: Extra-Mud is the term Copei has used to refer to the economic and media powers that have a strong influence on the MUD and the opposition]. Finally they proposed that Henrique Capriles Radonski be the candidate for the opposition in order to saddle him with the previous defeats.
They concur that the current challenge is bigger than it was for 7 October, and that the electoral conditions aren’t at all favourable, and so they believe that it is a fitting time to get rid of Capriles. The opposition leader [Capriles] is aware of the ambush by his internal adversaries, but in the face of the huge move of publically offering him the candidature for the opposition, he didn’t have any other choice than to accept the nomination for the 14 April elections.
Translated by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com