Posts tagged Henrique Capriles
Posts tagged Henrique Capriles
Venezuela: Opposition Protests Continue, President Maduro Supporters Come Out
From WBEZ Chicago’s WorldView: Protests continued on Monday in Caracas, with opposition members blocking off parts of Caracas and erecting barriers on major roads. Over the weekend hundreds of thousands of people also came out in support of the government of Nicolas Maduro. We’ll examine the demands of both sides with David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.
Venezuela’s leading polling firm Datanalisis just released numbers from mid-June polling that show President Nicolas is holding his slim advantage in public opinion. Maduro’s job performance is evaluated positively by 48.8% of the population, basically the same as on election day. However, his negative perceptions have increased to 47.8% from roughly 40.0% before. The gap between him and his mentor, only continues to increase with Hugo Chávez now receiving a staggering 71.4% positive evaluation.
Many indicators have returned to approximately where they were in 2010 when the opposition made big gains in the National Assembly. “Situation of the country” has 57.6% negative compared to 41.6% positive. 68% of respondents evaluate their “personal situation” positively, which is actually low for Venezuela. 58.1% say the “economic situation” is negative. 72.8% negatively evaluate the availability of basic consumer goods.
All of this would be good news for Henrique Capriles if his numbers had seen a corresponding improvement. But they have actually slightly deteriorated. His net job performance numbers are negative. 43.0% evaluate his job performance positively, 48.1% negatively. In May his job evaluation numbers were roughly even; in March they were net positive.
The trust deficit that dogged Capriles during the 2012 elections is still present. Maduro has a 12 point deficit in trust; 41% say they trust him, while 54.3% say they do not. However, Capriles has an almost 20 point gap; 37.6% say they trust him while 57.1% say they do not.
On April 14, Venezuela’s voters shocked the world by electing Nicolas Maduro to the presidency with a narrow margin-just weeks after he enjoyed a fifteen point lead in the polls. This is not the first time that Venezuelans have upended expectations. On August 15, 2004, they reaffirmed support for then-president Hugo Chávez in a recall referendum that most people were confident Chávez would lose. On December 2, 2007, they turned back Chávez’s attempt to change the constitution, less than a year after they reelected him with an overwhelming majority.
Universal and anonymous suffrage gives citizens a unique ability to change the course of history, a course normally determined by people in power. Venezuelans have done it time and again, a fact that Venezuela’s leaders would do well to remember as they navigate the current political crisis.
A couple of hours after the results were announced, here are my initial reactions. Winning by 9.5% represents a real decline from the three previous presidential elections which Chávez has won by 15 to 20%. However it is still a decisive victory that Chávez accepted with grace. While previous victories have led to vitriolic triumphalism, tonight Chávez was more circumspect in his celebration.
Capriles recognized the electoral defeat quickly and gave no encouragement to the “plan B” of saying the electoral playing field was unfair. Indeed he actively discouraged the “creative radicalism” of some elements of the opposition. This would seem to reinforce the predominance of the new generation of opposition politicians represented by Capriles and campaign manager Armando Briquet. However, the fact that Capriles did not make any reference to the December regional elections suggests to me that not all is settled in the opposition camp. If Capriles had lost by 5% or less, his dominance in the opposition coalition would have been ensured. But losing by almost 10% means there could well be a struggle for leadership.
An emotional Henrique Capriles recognized electoral defeat saying he “felt very proud for what we have constructed,” and appreciated that I “have won the confidence of over 6 million Venezuelans…6 million people who feel that the country could be better.” He urged those who voted for him to not feel like they had lost, because they had opened a new path. He emphasized that he “obeys and respects the decision of the people.” He also warned against the temptation to not recognize the electoral results. “To radical sectors [of the opposition] that want to get creative, I have always said: in this country radicalism has done a lot of damage.”
The consequences of yesterday’s release of a video of Capriles collaborator Juan Carlos Caldera presumably accepting cash for favors are still unclear. The trend in Venezuela’s private media is to downplay it on the idea that Capriles quickly disassociated himself from Caldera and that Caldera has come up with a reasonable explanation. El Universal’s webpage, for example, has the headline “Capriles Quick Response mitigated Effect of Caldera Video.”
I think this is wishful thinking for the following reasons.
First, the Capriles campaign has been doing well for the past two months, narrowing Chávez’s lead. But to finish strongly and actually catch Chávez, they would have to have some luck and do virtually everything right. Even a small slip-up—which at minimum this is—could prevent Capriles from squeaking out a victory.