Henrique Capriles: The ‘Least Worst’ Candidate

I do not believe Capriles to be a horrible candidate. I just don’t think he’s the best the opposition has to offer.

After devoting several hours to seeking out radicalism in some ranks of Primero Justicia, I am pleased to report that I did not find much. It was an impression I had that seems to have been incorrect. It is clear that Primero Justicia (like others) has been working hard to position themselves further from the right and closer to the potential chavista-light voter, particularly in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential elections.

For the record, Borges has expressed that Primero Justicia is a Humanist political party. He has stated that to be a humanist means to reject the extremes of both the liberalism or neo-liberalism of the right as well as the socialism of the left. This, I believe, is an honorable position in today’s Venezuelan political reality.

Reference: http://youtu.be/IvhY4-IYy5g

Regardless, I will take the opportunity to highlight three areas in which Primero Justicia has garnered less than ideal perceptions and positions vis-a-vis winning a presidential election against Chávez or his surrogate:

1) Internal Party Democracy;
2) Private Property Rights; and
3) Individual vs. Collective.

Neither Primero Justicia nor Capriles are “radical” in terms of ideology or political proposals. However, I do believe that he and his political party are too far to the right to make an ideal presidential candidate, particularly when there are other qualified candidate(s) who find themselves much better positioned in terms of political ideology and of their understanding of the complicated and polarized dynamics of the Venezuelan electorate.

Internal Party Democracy

While Primero Justicia has made honorable advances in some areas of political party diversification and inclusion (in the leadership of women, for example), they still lack in terms of internal democracy within the political party. The example (albeit a young one) presented by López and Voluntad Popular in the past year is more inclusive and shows greater respect for plural democracy and participation. Developing networks across the country and promoting the use of primaries in deciding candidates (both within Voluntad Popular and the wider MUD unity coalition) are both excellent examples of the “reclaiming” of “citizen participation” in political discourse. While Chávez’ has distorted the term in his tenure, “citizen participation” is still a desirable element of a democratic society and sorely needed in Venezuela to ensure that ALL citizens are invited to the table.

One need only look back to 1998 in Venezuela, or Egypt and Tunisia this past Spring or at income inequality and the recent and growing #OccupyWallSt protests in the United States as examples of what happens when citizens are excluded or disenchanted with government for too long.

Private Property Rights

The focus of Primero Justicia on private property rights has been viewed by many as primarily in support of the interests of the business sector and the middle and upper classes. This perception (regardless of their actual position) negatively impacts Capriles’ electability.

Reference: http://youtu.be/b-xVu69ACiM

Individual vs. Collective

The history of Primero Justicia as a party–essentially–born of former COPEI membership and based–in large part–on liberal economic principals, creates a fear that if given executive power, they could revert to the opposite extreme of the right-left, private-public economic spectrum. In other words, while the expropriations on one hand and abuses of State institutions on the other have done tremendous damage to Venezuelan democracy, a turn to the opposite extreme could do as just as much. More importantly, swinging to the opposite extreme leaves open the possibility for another popular revolt the likes of which brought Chávez to power in the first place.

Third Way

In my opinion, it is time for a “third way”. The reasons for Chávez’ victory in 1998 must be respected still today, some 14 years later.

I do not believe Capriles to be a horrible candidate. I just don’t think he’s the best the opposition has to offer.

By Roberto Silvers

This post was originally composed as a comment on Caracas Chronicles.

About Roberto Silvers

Roberto Silvers is a US American living, working and writing about politics, democracy and culture in Caracas, Venezuela. He has a blog and a comedy news show. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
This entry was posted in Analysis, Elections, Opposition and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Henrique Capriles: The ‘Least Worst’ Candidate

  1. CharlesC says:

    Silvers, -you are stuck on promoting yourself.
    You can’t walk away from the mirror, or the microphone,
    you are in a sense-like Chavez…
    Again, you trash someone -there is a quote-
    “Stepping on someone else, does not elevate you”-
    think about that. I asked you before to APOLOGIZE TO CAPRILES-
    you didn’t. Will you reconsider now?

  2. Dear Sir, Your attacks (here and in other forums) are unfounded if consistent. I have expressed my opinion regarding one candidate and made arguments why he may not be the best choice for the discerning opposition primary voter. I am entitled to my opinion just as you are. Publishing my opinion is neither an act of self-promotion nor an attempt to “step on someone else”. It is, rather, honest participation in the debate.

    As you seem to have missed my apology in the Caracas Chronicles comments, I will re-post it here: “PS – My apologies for calling Capriles a ‘dumb rich boy’. Nobody wants to hear their candidate insulted. I suppose that as a non-citizen, I feel more free to let loose words fly. Just calling it like I see it–just as I have often said that John Edwards gave me the creeps and that López has robot eyes. Capriles just doesn’t come across to me as being very intelligent. Just an impression. Never met the guy. Mil disculpas.”

    • CharlesC says:

      Ok, Truce. I missed your apology.
      But, I have a different view of the candidates. I think they are wonderful
      and appealing. I also think each is “a breath of fresh air”- maybe I am
      overly optomistic about them when I say, I am proud of each one of them.
      I want to believe that each one will do their best to fix and restore
      Venezuela. Also, I hope you are “there” next year-supporting whomever..
      We need everyone on board! And, afterward, let’s get to work for

    • Actually, our view is similar in that regard. I too think they are both wonderful and appealing. I simply am trying to draw a distinction between them. And not to worry: barring some unforeseen turn of events, the winning opposition candidate on February 12, 2012 will have my full support (and that of millions of Venezuelans) as the alternative is simply unacceptable.

  3. Term Limits: Leopoldo López expressed commitment to serve for only one term is another admirable and interesting contrast with Capriles, who has not made the same promise (to my knowledge).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s