While the United States is certainly not a good comparison for “all things politics” in Venezuela, some basic parallels should be drawn from time to time. Regardless of your ideology, it is difficult to deny that democracy works in the US and that they have been running sizable presidential campaigns for quite some time.
That being said, it struck me this morning–as President Barack Obama launched his 2012 reelection campaign–that the opposition in Venezuela seems to want to wait until the last minute to select its presidential candidate. It is truly luxurious how much campaign time candidates in the US enjoy in major elections. Obama, for example launched his campaign today, 19 months before US presidential elections. Prior to his victory in 2008, the young Illinois Senator launched his famed and victorious campaign a full 23 months prior to Election Day.
Even at optimum organizational speed, the opposition will not have a candidate prior to October 2011, a mere 13 months (or less*) before 2012 presidential elections in Venezuela. Would you prefer 13, 19 or 23 months of to campaign and prepare?
Compounding the difficulty presented by such a short calendar is the broader electoral scenario facing the future candidate. In 2008, Barack Obama faced an open field of unproven Republican candidates. The 2012 opposition candidate in Venezuela will face an embattled yet empowered President Hugo Chávez, aided by outrageous electoral favoritism, 12 years of government machinery and nearly 12 years of non-stop campaigning.
In light of these challenges, opposition candidates should be in a bit more of a hurry.
The Venezuelan National Electoral Commission could move the elections up to any date of its choosing, and without ample advanced notice.
- Instant Runoff Voting Essential for Opposition Primary Elections in Venezuela (robertosilvers.wordpress.com)
- STOP SHOUTING! Free Political Advice for Venezuela’s Parliamentary Opposition (Caracas Chronicles) (robertosilvers.wordpress.com)
- Barack Obama 2012 Campaign Officially Launches (huffingtonpost.com)