VIO News Blog

November 24, 2008

Venezuela Sets New Record for Voter Turnout

Venezuela set a new record for voter turnout in regional elections yesterday (65%), and the results show big wins by pro-government PSUV candidates. Lines were long and the polls stayed open late to accommodate voters. Governorships in 17 of 22 states already counted went to the PSUV, while opposition candidates prevailed in three states — Nueva Esparta, Zulia, and Miranda. In Caracas, the metropolitan mayorship went to the opposition’s Antonio Ledezma over former education minister Aristobulo Izturiz. The Los Angeles Times reports that President Chavez said during voting, “We are prepared to recognize any result” and “I learned to manage my defeats years ago.” According to the Washington Post, he reacted to the PSUV’s majority victory by saying: “Today, the people of Venezuela have spoken. Today’s victory is Venezuela’s. The democratic path has been ratified.”

Most of the news coverage portrays yesterday’s elections as an affirmation of continued support for the Chavez government in Venezuela, but with some signs that opposition may be gaining ground. It is not pointed out however that the last time the opposition participated fully in regional elections, back in 2000, they won 7 states, compared to 5 or 6 now.

This eleventh electoral test in a decade confirms the commitment of the country to democracy. While most sources recognize this fact, others like the Chicago Tribune and Washington Times persist in claiming that there has been fraud. The Tribune takes issue with disqualifications that barred candidates under investigation for corruption from running in elections. This law, though, was not the creation of the President or the CNE, but rather was passed by the National Assembly in 2001. The Supreme Court upheld the law in two separate tests, most recently this year.

A Washington Times column makes similar misstatements about the disqualifications, and also wrongly states that voting in Venezuela is open to manipulation. On the contrary, the electronic voting machines used there have been praised as among the most accurate and advanced in the world. International electoral missions have confirmed this fact repeatedly, and consistently deem voting processes free and fair. The Washington Times calls Venezuela a “police state,” when only one week ago, an opposition leader was quoted by Reuters as stating patently: “this is not a police state.”

Finally, in other news, AFP reports that Russian warships will arrive in Venezuela tomorrow for joint maneuvers. The exercises start December 1st, according to the AP. Sources suggest that new Venezuela-Russia ties are proof of a supposed “anti-U.S.” trend, and ignore the fact that Russia’s President met President Bush last week. They also fail to mention that Venezuela’s purchases of military equipment from Russia are the result of an embargo on sales by the U.S. The New York Times reports on a Brookings Institute paper regarding Latin America and President-elect Obama. It recommends lifting the blockade against Cuba and rethinking the unpopular war on drugs, and says relations with Venezuela could improve.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Venezuela Sets New Record for Voter Turnout « VIO News BlogVenezuela set a new record for voter turnout in regional elections yesterday (65%), and the results show big wins by pro-government PSUV candidates. Lines were long and the polls stayed open late to accommodate voters. … […]

    Pingback by Venezuela » New World Order as Global Financial Matrix Self Destructs | Ron ... — November 25, 2008 @ 8:54 am | Reply

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