[News] What Election Results Mean for Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 26 10:45:44 EST 2008


Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2008 10:45:14 -0500 (EST)
From: Venezuela Information Office <newsandaction at veninfo.org>


VENEZUELA'S 2008 REGIONAL ELECTIONS


Regional elections held in Venezuela on November 
23rd, 2008 have been portrayed in the U.S. media 
as a defeat for the government of President Hugo 
Chávez, when in fact the results strongly favor 
his party, the PSUV. The vast majority of state 
governorships and mayoralties, including those in 
many strategic parts of the country such as the 
Orinoco Oil Belt, remain under pro-government leadership.

The majority of Venezuelan citizens voted for 
candidates aligned with the Chávez government. 
Due to this broad popular support, the PSUV and 
its allies won 77 percent of governorships and 80 
percent of mayoralties. Even in Caracas, where 
the overarching metropolitan mayoralty went to 
the opposition, residents of the city's most 
populous district of Libertador elected a PSUV 
candidate as their local representative.

Voter turnout in the regional elections was a 
record-setting 65 percent. The electoral process 
was the 11th to occur in Venezuela in about a 
decade, and was deemed "peaceful and exemplary" 
by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. He 
commented that the process was a powerful 
expression of the maturity of the country's 
democratic institutions as well as the trust that 
Venezuelans have in them. The National Electoral 
Council again proved its reputation for efficient 
and accurate electoral oversight by posting 
official results online less than 24 hours after the polls closed.

U.S. media coverage - including editorials in the 
Washington Post and New York Times - has ignored 
the facts enumerated below, points which are 
essential to understanding contemporary political realities in Venezuela.

Most Governors and Mayors Support the Chávez Government
The electoral map of Venezuela shows that 
pro-government PSUV candidates gained the 
majority of offices throughout the country. They 
won 17 out of 22 governorships, or 77 percent of 
the total. This is more than was claimed by PSUV 
governors and allies before the 2008 regional 
elections, at which point they held 15 states out 
of 22. PSUV candidates and allies also won 
mayoral posts in 80 percent of municipalities 
throughout the nation. Meanwhile, in at least 
four out of the five states where opposition 
governors were elected, the majority of 
mayoralties went to the PSUV (Zulia is still to 
be decided). This is true in Carabobo, where an 
opposition governor won, but at least 11 out of 
14 of the new municipal mayors are members of the 
PSUV, including the mayor of Puerto Cabello, a 
major port city that is important to the oil 
industry. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=5IRB2pFNOg2YUKZwWO5HOWL4nBlKkaoC>National 
Electoral Council, 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=0ZMwXvgJ%2BM5RRqG%2FVQD0IWL4nBlKkaoC>Embassy 
of Venezuela)

Most Venezuelans Live Under Pro-Chávez Local Leaders
As has been true for nearly a decade, the 
majority of Venezuela's population will continue 
to live in states with pro-Chávez governors. This 
is currently true for 57 percent of the country's 
population, while a smaller amount - 43 percent - 
have opposition governors. Some municipalities 
shifted to PSUV leadership by choosing a 
progressive leader for the first time during the 
tenure of the Chávez administration, including 
Valencia, an important industrial and 
manufacturing city in the coastal state of 
Carabobo. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=8EIgqaEFLit14jCuiPzTIWL4nBlKkaoC>Instituto 
Nacional de Estadistica, 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=7I2Sv3r%2BL6WWyqF%2FkZhyl2L4nBlKkaoC>Diario 
El Carabobeño)

The PSUV Achieved Victory in Strategic Areas of the Country
All states in Venezuela with strategic natural 
resources and industries elected PSUV candidates 
for governor, with the exception of Zulia in the 
West. This means that pro-government leadership 
prevailed in the oil-rich states of Anzoategui, 
Barinas, Bolívar, Monagas, and Delta Amacuro, 
some of which encompass the lucrative Orinoco Oil 
Belt. The state of Bolívar, in particular, also 
hosts the country's other important basic 
industries: hydroelectricity, aluminum, steel, 
iron, and petrochemicals. A majority of the 
mayoral races in these states also went to PSUV 
candidates. The PSUV won mayoral races in 15 out 
of 21 municipalities in Anzoategui, at least 
seven out of 11 in Bolívar, at least eight of 12 
in Barinas, at least 12 of 13 in Monagas, and 
three out of four in Delta Amacuro. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=wNyBivVTBwAMCkTnKJHvI2L4nBlKkaoC>National 
Electoral Council)

Pro-Government Candidates Won by Wide Margins
In races for state governors, the opposition's 
five victories were claimed by far smaller 
margins than those earned by the PSUV, which 
clearly dominated in the remaining 17 states. 
This is a key difference. Opposition candidates 
won by margins of just 10 percentage points or 
less in four of those states (as low as 1.3% in 
Tachira and 3% in Carabobo), and won by 15 
percentage points in the fifth state (Nueva 
Esparta). In contrast, the 17 pro-government 
victories were more decisive overall. Candidates 
supporting the government won by roughly 50 
percentage points in two states, 30 percentage 
points in five states, 20 percentage points in 
four states, and 5 to 10 percent in six more 
states. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=OJfD4sKK2z%2FrYnOClLorovAtW%2FwxfGDK>National 
Electoral Council)

Residents of the Largest Caracas Municipality Voted for the PSUV
Although the mayor for metropolitan Caracas went 
to the opposition, Libertador, the city's most 
heavily populated district - home to 1.7 million 
residents - elected the PSUV's municipal mayoral 
candidate Jorge Rodríguez. Libertador is by far 
the largest of the five urban districts in 
Caracas. The PSUV won this election by a wide 
margin of 12 percent, earning 106,487 more votes 
than the opposition's candidate. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=fChSZsyN06aHIPvis49UzGL4nBlKkaoC>National 
Electoral Council)

Even in Opposition-Controlled States, Key Municipalities Went to the PSUV
The assertion that nearly half the country will 
be under the leadership of the opposition is 
incorrect. In states where the governorships went 
to the opposition, a large number of the mayoral 
seats went to PSUV candidates or their allies. 
The opposition won the governorship in Carabobo, 
Tachira, Nueva Esparta, Zulia, and Miranda. In 
the state of Carabobo, the opposition only 
managed to win two of the mayoral races, while 
the PSUV won 11 mayoral races. In the state of 
Nueva Esparta, 6 of the 11 mayoral races went to 
the PSUV. In Tachira, the PSUV won at least 15 of 
29 mayoral races. In Miranda, they won at least 
14 of 21 races. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=vORII4z%2B%2FGyRpfeeLcP9z2L4nBlKkaoC>National 
Electoral Council)

Venezuela's Electoral Authority Handled Record Voter Turnout
The regional elections saw a record-setting 65.5 
percent voter turnout. Of the 16.8 million 
registered voters in Venezuela, roughly 11 
million went to the polls. This is a record for 
the country, and likely among the highest rates 
of voter turnout in local elections anywhere in 
the hemisphere. Despite this, the National 
Electoral Council (CNE) managed the influx at the 
polls and made results of the voting available 
online through its website just hours after all 
of the 11,297 polling stations closed. This was 
made possible by the electronic voting machines 
used in Venezuela, which have been praised as 
among the most advanced and accurate in the 
world. The CNE presents results broken down by 
candidate for each state and municipality in an 
easily accessible format. (Source: 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=%2FHGw9cnzauI7jY3kDU0acGL4nBlKkaoC>Embassy 
of Venezuela, 
<http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=YtWeOJxml3WTKycxbC6VKGL4nBlKkaoC>National 
Electoral Council)

Unfortunately, despite the extensive records 
available on the CNE website, many media outlets 
in the U.S. have failed to report accurately on 
the results of the regional elections. One 
example is the claim made in a Wall Street 
Journal article and a New York Times editorial on 
November 25th that more than half of Venezuela is 
under opposition control, which, according to the 
official statistics presented here, is inaccurate and misleading.



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