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Early elections the only alternative?
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2002

-- Business News Editor Robert Rudnicki writes:

Irrespective of what side of the Venezuelan political spectrum you may be on, it now seems that early elections are the only realistic solution to the country's current stagnation.

There are those that feel it is the government that is causing the economic crisis, and of course there are others who think the reverse ... however there is one thing everyone agrees on: there is an economic crisis.

The Confederation of Trade Unions (CTV) is now threatening a general strike on October 21, if the President doesn't resign by Wednesday. All this is likely to do is polarize Venezuela further. The best outcome for the government would clearly be a very poor turnout, whereas for the CTV it would obviously be a high turnout.
The most likely outcome is probably something in between ... leading to further indecision, stagnation and eventual economic collapse. 
Neither side wants to back down, and both are trying to force the other to yield through shows of force like yesterday's march and the upcoming Movimiento Quinta Republica (MVR) demonstrations.
The longer this continues the harder it will become to repair the divide and the damage done.

The government has been calling for dialogue, as have international bodies such as the OAS and the Carter Center ... but to no avail. 
Obviously, with the current state of affairs, the President feels less than confident in calling elections and testing his popularity, but it is unlikely to get any better without cooperation from the business sector.

Elections appear to be the only logical alternative.

The President still has plenty of supporters, and a reasonable chance of victory and relegitimization ... and for the opposition, if it can stay united, it would for them be a "democratic" solution to getting the President out of office. I'm sure an MVR electoral win would be considered very unlikely by most, but then what of the unity of Coordinadora Democratica?

So maybe its time to give the opposition what it wants ... and let the people of Venezuela decide, through voting, instead of marches and other shows of force.

But if President Hugo Chavez Frias is putting his head on the block then why shouldn't Fedecamaras' Carlos Fernandez and the CTV's Carlos Ortega join him?

After all, if President Chavez Frias were to agree to go to the polls early, the prospect of returning to office with the two Carloses still around his neck is scarcely an incentive.

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