Sunday, August 14, 2005

What goes around, comes around 

What goes around comes around

Today in the editor of Ultimas Noticias, Eleazar Diaz Rangel, in his weekly column made an interesting point regarding last Sundays local elections. The Venezuelan opposition has been complaining very vociferously about the “morochas” the setting up of dummy political parties to increase the number of seats an existing party can win (for a detailed explanation on how this works see the Election FAQ ). Interestingly enough, it turns out that it was the Venezuelan opposition that first came up with the idea of the morochas and used them for electoral gain. Diaz Rangel explains:

On a cool day in January of 2000 there was a meeting in San Felipe (the capital of Yaracuy) between the governor Eduardo Lapi, the head of Convergencia (an opposition party) Juan Jose Caldera, and the head of the electoral campaign Mauricio Vasquez where it was decided what the electoral strategy would be for the elections coming up that July: invent a “new” party, present the list candidates from Convergencia and the candidates by district from the new party. The German Mixed system that is used in Venezuela mandates that winning district candidates be subtracted from the number of seats won by that party in the list voting; the voting law of 1989 codified this system and the 1995 electoral law prohibited phony parties, but in 1998 the Venezuelan legislature overturned these laws and this change was taken advantage of by the Yaracuy political operatives.

The journalist Francisco Capdevielle reminded me about that new dummy party that was called “Lo que Alcanzo por Yaracuy” (what was done for Yaracuy) which had an acronym, LAPY, that phonetically was the same as the last name of the then governor of Yaracuy, Lapi. In the legislative elections Lapi’s parties got 54,000 votes against 37,000 for Chavez’s MVR, but using this system Convergencia and LAPY wound up with 4 deputies to only one for the MVR. If the “morocha” had not been used Convergencia would have received 3 seats and the MVR 2. This was the first breach of the principal of proportional representation.

The example from Yaracuy was taken by the MVR and applied to the municipal elections this past Sunday which permitted the MVR and its allies to win 85% of the seats with only a little more than 60% of the vote.

So here we have more than a little irony. The “morochas” which the opposition all of the sudden finds to unethical and illegal was actually developed by none other than – the opposition. Not to mention, the opposition themselves used the “trick” of the morochas in Zulia state almost completely freezing out Chavista candidates. This is all so typical of the opposition – “do as I say, don’t do as I do” should be their official motto. Their hypocrisy simply knows no bounds.


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