Having had an election earlier in the year in the UK, we Brits are accustomed to manifestos, so we can read the intentions of the candidates and know what we are voting for. It also holds parties accountable. It’s often not worth the paper it’s written on. Parties change their minds or things change, but it’s there. We get a copy. We can debate it. Ask questions. Scrutinize it. Is it a first world luxury? Yes. Probably.
Here, I’ve seen nothing of the sort. Lots of promises, but not explaining how it’s going to be achieved. No budgets, no transparency, lack of information, no clear idea what you’re voting for. Not that you would trust a politician anyway, especially looking at the track record, not just here but all over the world. This plays into the political elite’s hands obviously. The people are left with a popular vote. For the poorest, there have been reports of parties buying votes, or paying people to attend rallies. It’s disappointing.
Again the poorest lose out. As stated in the previous post, the anti Juan Orlando stance has been immense. On Twitter there is the #fueraJOHchallenge. I’m unsure what this entails, but there has been a ranchero song which is being echoed around the country; very catchy, wishing Juan Orlando to resign and leave. Click here. Many people simply want him out, which is fair (I am one of those people), but have been left to guess what policies the opposition has in store. More so, I don’t think they care. Juan Orlando has outstayed his welcome, both from Alianza and Liberal supporters, and I have come to learn, quite a few Nacionalistas.
Like in many countries, there are loyal supporters to the political parties. This generation has had to contend with the emergence of new parties, born from the 2009 crisis or corruption, which has brought many new swing voters, especially from the left. A friend who wishes to remain anonymous also told me the Nacional party has also changed, especially from the days of the ex-president Ricardo Maduro.
According to my friend who worked in the party, Juan Orlando has ruled the Nacional party with an iron fist, a lot like the country, bringing a lack of democracy, leaving many in the party disillusioned. While my friend doesn’t want to see a leadership with Alianza, he feels Juan Orlando has brought a lot of problems on himself and the party, and should have stood aside.
Not all Nacionalistas feel that way. I understand that many are happy with him and believe that the constitution is wrong. That’s another issue altogether. I was told that the ‘one term’ bill was put in place by the US to overcome this very issue: stopping dictatorships from forming. Presidents from both sides have now tried to overturn it, both ending in disaster and political crisis.
Delay in results leads to melt down
Both parties were claiming victory on Sunday night, although Nasralla took a five point lead. Strategists were saying the pattern should continue and Nasralla would win. Only 40% or so of the votes had been counted. This sent Alianza supporters to celebrate in the streets.
Meanwhile, Nacionalistas we’re also celebrating in the streets. The Nacionalista politicians looked worried though, but JOH kept claiming the rural vote had to be counted and this would win him the election. Tensions grew as the wait continued. Intimidation between supporters became intense, as you would expect. Then results stopped coming through. A stink. TSE claimed computer problems. Inaccuracies and rigging accusations were getting louder. The suspicions got even more intense when only Nacionalista votes went up, without announcements or confirmation about where the votes were coming from. The Blue side were cheering (one Nacionalista informed me on Twitter that she would prefer a victory with fraud than have a communist regime: leaving me somewhat gobsmacked) while the Red went to the streets. Little by little, the result turned in JOH’s favour. The amount of pie charts had sent the nation dizzy. By Thursday, mayhem had commenced.
The violent clashes in the past week has left 10 people dead, countless injured and people detained. Nacionalistas are blaming Libre for vandalism. In some cases it’s justified, in other cases not, especially the looting. I had to walk through some of the riots on Thursday evening when coming home from work, with the tramline on fire, road blocks with burnt tyres, toxic smoke, filling the air…a war zone. I never felt under threat, but the thought of the police storming through did. People wanted to help me through and get out the way, which I appreciated.
The violence was inexcusable, in clashes and the army fire. Images and videos were flowing on to social media and communication networks, real and fake news coming in at a rapid rate, while no one knew what was happening, especially with the voting.