Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights

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Posts tagged regional elections

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Was Turnout Decisive in the Regional Elections?

Hugo Pérez Hernaíz and David Smilde

There has been much comment on low voter turnout for the December 16 regional elections. In an interview the day after the elections opposition leader Julio Borges argued that if every opposition voter that voted for Capriles in the presidential election had also voted in the regional elections, the opposition would have won up to 18 States. Since then, chain messages circulating in opposition web sites and social media have insisted on the point. Here is a translation of one anonymous message:

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Filed under Venezuela regional elections turnout

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Turnout Light

David Smilde

This morning I drove around to the same electoral centers in Petare (East side of Caracas, in the state of Miranda) I visited during the October Presidential election. The difference was striking. No electoral centers had lines including one in El Llanito which at the same time of day (11 am) during the presidential elections had a line close to a kilometer long.

To get a feel for the difference look at the following two pictures of an electoral center in Jose Felix Ribas, a neighborhood in Petare.


This was the head of a line that was a couple of hundred meters long on October 7.


Today there was no line and people strolled easily in and out.

The Consejo Nacional Electoral estimated that participation had been 24% by 1 pm which would mean an overall turnout of 50% at the most. By international standards that is not bad for regional elections. But it would be significantly lower than the 2008 regional elections (62%) and much lower than predicted by those of us who thought this weeks’s dramatic events surrounding Chávez’s health would increase participation. 

Indeed driving around it looks like an average December Sunday with traffic jams around shopping malls, not electoral centers.

Filed under Venezuela regional elections turnout abstention

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Regional Elections Cheat Sheet

Hugo Pérez Hernaíz and David Smilde

Venezuelans will again head to the polls on December 16, this time to elect governors. Pro-government candidates hope to ride on the wave of Chávez’s victory in October. They can also count on the proven mobilization machine of the Socialist Party (PSUV). But in regional elections, local dynamics can have an important impact and pro-government forces will be divided among two or more candidates in several states. Also, some PSUV candidates face criticism as outsiders imposed by Chávez and are not supported by local activists. 

The opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) is still struggling to overcome the disillusionment of its followers after the expectations they raised were dashed in the October presidential elections. As in the presidential elections the opposition is again denouncing government ventajismo. They point to PSUV challengers inaugurating local public works projects carried out by the national government. The opposition is trumpeting that most of its candidates were chosen in open primaries in February, whereas the PSUV candidates were appointed by Chávez. 

In contrast to the presidential elections, this time President Chávez´s health has come back into question. At the end of November he traveled to Cuba for treatment. This not only raises the question of succession but means he might not be an effective campaign presence for his candidates.  

In the following we look at the races state by state. First we look at “races to watch,” which are those states where the results of previous regional elections and the recent presidential elections, as well as current dynamics, suggest they could go either way. Then we look at the three states that should be solidly in the opposition camp. Finally we review the numerous, primarily rural, states that should go pro-government. Trustworthy polling is currently not available for most of these elections, so these suggested dynamics should be regarded as orientations, not predictions. Trustworthy polling may become available in the coming weeks so any of these analyses could change before Election Day.

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Filed under Venezuela regional elections