Friday, November 09, 2007

And Let's Not Forget Venezuela ...

... where we can see some similar dynamics. An opposition that sees the president eliminating remaining procedural checks on his power, a leader that claims that his mandate gives him the obligation to "see through" his revolution to its completion (and accuses a powerful northern neighbor of attempting to destabilize his country) ...

My prediction is that Hugo Chavez will win his referendum on December 2 simply because he continues to hold on to his base and they can give him a majority at the polls--just as I expect that in Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili will easily win re-election to the presidency given his wide base of support.

What is interesting in the Venezuelan case is the role of the universities--who enjoy a great deal of autonomy (e.g. police forces cannot enter campuses; rectors are elected in campus elections, not appointed by the state, etc.) Bringing them fully under his supervision is a major priority for Chavez if he is to neutralize all remaining centers of opposition, so it is not surprising that they have become the focal point of the demonstrations.

The similarities end with tear gas, water cannons, and few dozen cracked skulls - in Georgia's case - Chavez was much softer on his opposition then again he was not publicaly accused of murdering his own liberal prime minister and making it look like gas poisoning plus his crowd was much smaller ( up to 50-70 000 demonstrated in Tbilisi). But the most hilarious part is that Georgian oppo actually asked for parlamentary elections to be held on time and Saakashvili "consented" to have a snap presidential elections - after closing up all opposition news papers and tv station and arresting/exiling all meaningful potential candidates. Other than that yeah, plenty of similarities...
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