6 October 2012 — Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
On Sunday Venezuela will vote in their Presidential election. In total there are seven candidates but the main choice is between the Hugo Chavez, backed by a coalition of parties of the left and Henrique Capriles Radonski, a state governor backed by a number of right-wing parties in a coalition known as the M.U.D.
Below are 10 key facts for all interested in Venezuela’s presidential vote.
1. Former US President Jimmy Carter says Venezuela has the world’s best election process
On September 2012 Carter said, “Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”. He added that Hugo Chavez has always won “fairly and squarely”. Carter won a Nobel prize for his work with the election-monitoring Carter Centre, which has observed and certified past Venezuelan elections. See http://tinyurl.com/carteronven
2. Sunday will be Venezuela’s 15th set of national elections since Hugo Chavez became President in 1999.
That is more sets of elections than took place in the 40 years prior to Hugo Chávez becoming President. It is also one of the highest number of elections held in any country in the world in that time. All have been declared free and fair by international bodies such as the EU and Organisation of American States. Levels of participation and the numbers of registered voters have both increased dramatically with turnout expected at 75%!
3. Venezuela’s elections are overseen by the National Electoral Council, an independent branch of state similar to the UK Electoral Commission.
The trust in this institution has been so great that earlier this year Venezuela‘s main right-wing opposition (M.U.D) coalition organised for it to oversee its own Presidential primaries. Their Executive Secretary described the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) role in this selection as “an excellent indication of the democratic institutions in the country”.
4. Polls predict a strong victory for Hugo Chavez
Of the 18 polls carried out in September, Hugo Chavez was ahead in 14 and the average lead across all the polls was 12%. Earlier this week a number of UK based academics wrote a public letter about misrepresented in the UK media about the polls. See http://t.co/qjCEs27J
5. Strong economic growth and social policies are the best explanation of Hugo Chavez’s poll lead.
Venezuela’s economy is growing at 6% per year and left the world wide recession behind two years ago. New social policies which address the ongoing needs of Venezuela’s poor majority have continued. For example in the past year alone 250,000 new social houses have been built, state pensions made available for all and the minimum wage increased by 30%. These policies are deeply popular – explaining why pollsters give Chavez a 60% approval rating.
6. Brazil’s former President Lula is backing President Chavez saying “Your victory will be ours”.
Of the election he said: “With Chavez’s leadership, the Venezuelan people has made extraordinary gains. The popular classes have never ever been treated with such respect, love and dignity. Those conquests must be preserved and strengthened. Your victory will be ours… thanks comrade for everything you have done for Latin America”.
7. The wheels have been coming off the right-wing opposition’s election bid
The past month has been bad for the right-wing coalition hoping to defeat Hugo Chavez at Sunday’s election. Four parties recently withdrew from the coalition. Leonard Chirinos, a representative of one of the parties that did so said the revelation of a secret opposition plan to privatise much of the economy contributed to the split. The revelation of this economic privatisation plan had come from David Lima, another prominent member of the right-wing opposition.
Subsequently, William Ojeda MP, from one of the parties still aligned with the right-wing coalition condemned the “hidden agenda” of economic privatisations as part of a “neoliberal obsession”. He was expelled from his party hours later.
Aldo Cermeño, an even more prominent member of the opposition, former governor of the state of Falcon and former vice-president of COPEI, a major opposition party, also denounced Capriles’s neoliberal package .
Seperately, a leading right-wing MP from party of Henrique Capriles Radonski was caught taking illegal donations from a businessman believed to have been for the Capriles Radonski electoral campaign.
8. Fake exit polls declaring the right-wing opposition has won have been used before – ignore them this Sunday
As with many countries, polling in the last few days of the campaign is not permitted. However, in the past fake exit polls have been released by the right-wing opposition declaring Hugo Chavez the loser. The aim is to discredit any official results that later show Hugo Chavez to have won, by giving the impression that Chavez’s victory was due to cheating.
For example in 2004, when Hugo Chavez won a referendum by 60:40%, journalists across the world were embarrassed to have been caught out reporting an exit poll from American firm Penn, Schoen & Berland that had declared “Exit Poll Results Show Major Defeat for Chavez“. This so-called poll used volunteers from Sumate, an anti-Chávez NGO close to George W Bush and which receives funding from the US administration.
One of the few people to still claim Chavez actually lost that referendum is now a key adviser to right-wing candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski so further such exit polls can be expected on Sunday.
See the 2004 fake poll herehttp://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/penn_shoen_berland_release.pdf
9. Sections of the right-wing coalition are preparing to cry fraud should they lose.
The candidate of the right-wing coalition, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has not yet confirmed that he will accept the results of the elections on Sunday. Sections of the right-wing coalition are clearly hoping to discredit the results if they lose. For example, Ricardo Haussmann, a key Capriles adviser, recently said his campaign will employ tens of thousands at the polling stations so that they can declare their own results to the world before the official announcement is made by Venezuela‘s independent National Electoral Council!
Yet, the right-wing coalition parties have had no trouble accepting the CNE’s results when it won dozens of MPs seats, mayors and state governorships, or when it defeated Chavez’s constitutional changes in a 2007 referendum.
Historically, when they have lost sections of the right-wing coalition have sought to undermine the results. And the democratic will of the Venezuelan people in this way. In 2002 right-wing coalition parties carried out a short-lived coup d’état. In 2003 they carried out an illegal oil industry lock-out whose declared intention was to oust democratically elected President Hugo Chavez. They then claimed fraud in a 2004 referendum won by Chavez by 59% to 41% despite the results being verified by international observers such as the Carter Centre. They then decided to boycott the 2005 parliamentary elections, when faced with imminent defeat, a move condemned by the Organisation of American States.
10. Over 200 prominent people in Britain have demanded that the British government does not support any such anti-democratic attempts to not recognise the results.
This is the strongest ever support from Britain for Venezuela and includes some 60 British parliamentarians from six parties and a range of figures from across civil society. See the statement herehttp://tinyurl.com/RespectWillofVenezuelanPeople