The following newsletter presents a summary of the most important events regarding the electoral topic during the third and fourth week of July (Monday 16th – Sunday 29th).
1. National Broadcasts
The monitoring group of Andrés Bello Catholic University has determined that the political impact of the national broadcasts -known as “Cadenas”- (Compulsory Transmissions on Radio and Television) occurs for the following reasons: “President Chávez uses these broadcasts as a means for his political campaign. Since these transmissions are statewide and public, they should be independent from the political ground, but, given that the President makes an excessive use of this mechanism, a distortion is currently present in the volume of government and opposition messages regarding their presidential campaign. Furthermore, when President Chávez talks during these broadcasts, he blocks any other messages; meaning that he does not allow Venezuelans the possibility to choose freely on which points of view, information or opinion they want to follow” (1).
Additionally, regarding the official media use for electoral propaganda, the Non-Governmental Organization “Espacio Público” published in its report (2) that the presidential reelection candidate, Hugo Chávez, has accumulated more than 6,200 minutes of exposure on radio and television during the first six months of campaign of 2012, through the aforementioned nationwide transmissions. According to the report, each broadcast lasts, on average, 74 minutes with 14 broadcasts per month; meaning that approximately one national broadcast takes place every two days. Additionally (3), the report also includes a graph on the incidence of president´s Chavez appearances in the national broadcasts which is presented below:
Hours of exposure of President Chavez in nationwide transmissions 1999-2012 (Source: Espacio Público)
1.1 Comando Venezuela’s reaction
On Tuesday, July 17th, representatives of Comando Venezuela (candidate Henrique Capriles’ campaign team) signed the “Agreement for the Recognition of Results” proposed by the National Electoral Council (“CNE” after its initial in Spanish), on the condition that the organism must guarantee that President Hugo Chávez will not abuse the practice of the nationwide transmissions, with the purpose of propaganda and political proselytism. The statement delivered to the CNE authorities stated: “On this day, we demand to this Council (CNE) to invigorate this agreement, leading to exhort the President and the Minister of Communications, Andrés Izarra, to eliminate the nationwide transmissions that promote the candidacy of Hugo Chávez, direct and indirectly”. (4)
That same day, one of the directors of the CNE, Socorro Hernández, expressed that it is not under the electoral body’s powers to regulate the nationwide transmissions by the President, as per requested by the Venezuelan opposition. Hernández furthermore stated: “We cannot tell the President not to speak about his government’s management, because that decision is made by the Executive Power, not by the CNE”. (5) Thus, the CNE ratified that it will still permit political proselytism through nationwide transmissions, which is clearly a violation of the electoral rules and laws of Venezuela.
The President, and candidate to a third term in office, Hugo Chávez, assured the media that the national broadcasts of radio and television are necessary in order to let the people know about his government’s actions. “I take these attributions, because the private media is controlled by the bourgeoisie who hide the achievements of my government”. (6) Also, the President stated that “The presidential nationwide transmissions are attributions of the Republic’s President to use whenever he, himself, considers; and with the good judgment that I have, I ask everyone not to campaign during those nationwide transmissions”. (7)
2. National Electoral Council
The CNE inaugurated on Thursday July 26th, a new data processing center, which will reinforce the protection of all electoral data. Its functions are to guard information of the Electoral and Civil Registration, to serve as a counting center of electoral results, to store the voter’s fingerprints and to support the CNE’s internal functioning, among others. (8)
Poll specialist, Baldomero Vásquez, , stated that Venezuela faces a unique process with its polls, entering a “survey war”, where different companies issue polls with very different results seeking to influence voters. This war casts some doubts regarding if there is any truth behind many of the polls’ results. Nevertheless, they continue to be a main source of reference for the public opinion.
As of the task of winning votes, the analysis done by the news agency EFE concluded that both candidates have taken a new focus on the search of indecisive voters by travelling through the different states in the country. As Luis Vicente León, president of the survey agency Datanálisis said, “This may be caused by the percentage points difference between Chávez and Capriles, which is smaller today than the amount of indecisive voters”. He also reminded his audience that “neither the chavismo nor the opposition can win without convincing that group”. Additionally, he stated that “the number of indecisive voters dropped 6 points, to 23,1% and those 6 points were distributed as 55,4% in favor of Capriles and 44,6% in favor of Chávez.” (9)
In the political act “Comprometidos Contigo” (“Committed to you”),that took place this Tuesday, July 24th in the Petare slum, Henrique Capriles Radonski presented details of the social wellbeing proposals included in his government’s plan. He established that one of his first commitments if elected President would be the implementation of his “Zero Hunger” program, which was also executed during his term as governor for the state of Miranda. Furthermore, he expressed that he aims to build 1,000 new schools and make some reforms to high school and undergraduate studies. (10)
On another note, journalist Jesús Torrealba, member of the Democratic Unity, said that the center of Capriles Radonski’s government plan is the social plan, “there are social aspects in every public policy, regarding security, employment, education, and there is an important effort directed towards the part of the population with the most needs”. (11)
In response to Capriles’ declarations, the President and candidate for the reelection, Hugo Chávez, criticized the data presented by his opposing candidate and minimized him by saying that “he has unleashed demagogy in its purest form, he’s shameless”. Moreover, he threatened voters by stating that “…Chávez better win the elections. We are the only guarantee of peace, of the continuity of economic and social growth. If the bourgeoisie returns to Miraflores (the Presidential Palace), the country would begin to crumble”. (12)
The CNE continues to refuse to invite credible international organizations, both by virtue of their competence and their impartiality (such as the Organization of American States, the United Nations and the European Union) in order to observe the preparation and development of the Presidential election in October, Governors elections in December and Mayors elections in April 2013.
2 Informe presentado el pasado 26 de Julio por la organización “Espacio Público”.