Dear readers, this new report summarizes the most important developments regarding the election process in Venezuela during the third week of August (Wednesday 15th – Wednesday 22nd). Enjoy the reading ! You can also visit the blog of the Venezuelan Student Movement: just click here!
In the coming days, we will continue to develop our section on economic basis, to help you understand better how politics can influence economics and try to solve the current crisis.
On October 7th, 2012 presidential elections will take place in Venezuela without any international observation. The CNE has extended invitations to an “international accompaniment”, departing from the custom of international observation set by past presidential elections – when commissions of international observation by the OAS, the European Union and the Carter Center were present. Recently, the Carter Center informed that it will not be present for Venezuelan elections. The Venezuelan Student Movement denotes such events with concern, understanding the crucial role that international observation plays in democratic and transparent electoral processes.
1. CNE signs agreement with UNASUR and extends invitation to the Carter Center
On Wednesday 15th, 2012 an agreement of international accompaniment for Venezuelan presidential elections was signed between the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the National Electoral Council (CNE). The agreement was adopted in the extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Ministers Council of the regional bloc held in Bogotá, Colombia, this past June. The signature took place in the headquarters of the CNE in Caracas, Venezuela, between the Foreign Minister of Peru, Rafael Roncagliolo in representation of the Presidency pro témpore of UNASUR, and Tibisay Lucena, president of the CNE. “The Electoral Council has been created as a technical center for the development and perfecting of the continent’s electoral matters. The missions of observation will be inaugurated in Venezuela’s presidential elections upon the request of member countries” assured the Foreign Minister Roncagliolo; and added that Venezuela will be the first country to be part of the program of electoral accompaniment of the UNASUR. (1) Lucena said: “Trough solidarity, respect of national sovereignty and cooperation between equals is that we will be able to keep constructing a more alive and dynamic democracy for our America”. She also announced that from August 21st to August 24th , representatives from Brazil, India and South Korea will visit Venezuela in order to get to know the voting system, its machines and audits; amongst other elements. (2)
Furthermore, on July 18th the CNE extended an invitation to the Carter Center to accompany the electoral process in Venezuela However, on Monday 20th they rejected such invitation affirming that the concept of accompaniment differs from the concept of observation; and also pointed out that the invitation was made too late to be evaluated, and to organize the identification and transportation of experts, together with the proper obtainment of the necessary funding. The CNE described the invitation as the conformation of an intermediary option (between observation and accompaniment) that included the delivery of a small group of experts to participate in some pre-electoral audits, and the observation of the voting the day of the election. (3)
The Carter Center clarified that the “purpose of the accompaniment is to invite foreigner experts to observe the fulfillment of electoral activities during the voting day, through a political presence mainly symbolic; while the purpose of the observation, is to invite international organizations to evaluate the electoral process as a whole in a systematic way”. Consequently, the organism expressed its worries by making references to the attributions and limitations of the electoral observers, specified in the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation of the OAS, of which it is a signatory and the fact that the European Union was not invited as an international observer. (4)
2. Media Campaign
Since July 1st, 2012 “Comando Venezuela” (campaign team of the candidate Henrique Capriles) has presented at least 30 complaints regarding violations of the National Electoral Rulebook and Regulation of Advertisement and Propaganda to the CNE , which have yet to be answered. Ramón José Medina, who is part of the strategic team of Comando Venezuela, also highlighted the use of State resources for electoral propaganda within public offices.
Meanwhile, the CNE authorities agreed to start administrative procedures to the political party “Primero Justicia” for exceeding the maximum amount of propaganda in the television channel “Meridiano Televisión”; as well as to the National Institute of Nutrition for allowing campaign activities in their facilities.
Tibisay Lucena, President of the CNE, stated that throughout this week the CNE will provide information regarding the development of the campaign, the behavior of the candidates, and the conduct of the media on advertisement; specially, balance in the delivery of news.
However, and contradictorily, the CNE issued a communication stating that the political actors had complied with the permitted TV transmission times, even though two channels are clearly biased: Globovisión, with Henrique Capriles; and Venezolana de Televisión, owned by the State, with President Chávez. (5)
3. Electoral Simulation
Next Sunday, August 26th 2012, the second electoral simulation will take place nationwide. It will count with 1.553 voting centers, 4.382 principal machines and 1.3414 of backup; inviting the entire electorate body of more than 18.000.000 voters to participate.
Of all the voting centers capacitated for the presidential elections, only 55 will be opened during the simulation. The functioning of the whole process will be tested, just as it will occur on elections day. In the rest of the voting centers the authentication of the voters will be evaluated through the Integrated Authentication Systems and, also the new ballot. Additionally, it is important to highlight that for the first time, the ballot cardboard used for the simulation will be the same one displayed for the elections taking place on October 7ths: and at the end of simulation, there will not be a definitive counting of votes.
Internally, the CNE will confirm (prove) the National Support Center, the proper functioning of the transmissions means, the Quick Help Centers (both National Totalization Centers) and their logistic capabilities and deployment. The President of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, stated that everything is ready for the simulation, and that it will help to assure that all devices are working perfectly. “We will detect incidents, problems and verify the logistic capacity during the execution of the simulation”. (6)
Comando Venezuela expects to deploy more than 20.000 volunteers next Sunday, with the purpose of adjusting the logistics that will be activated during the presidential elections, in order to guarantee the defense of the vote. Leopoldo López, national coordinator of Comando Venezuela, said that volunteers will be present in the 1.553 voting centers that will be activated that day with the task of assuring the functioning of the connectivity in every single one of the centers; guaranteeing that every step is made with fluency, verifying the installation and opening of the centers and, the closing of the polling. (7)
The discrepancy of results among pollsters in regard to tendencies for the next presidential elections remains. According to the results given by the pollster firm Hernández Hercon made by evaluating 2.700 people, Capriles spearheads the intention of the votes versus Chávez in a relation of 48.6% to 44.2%. These results seem to be in line with the ones provided by the last polling of “Predicmática”, which evaluated 1.600 people, and placed the vote intention in favor of Capriles with a 48.3% against 43.90% for President Chávez. (8)
These results are similar to those provided by the firm “Consultores 21”, which were reflected in the past bulleting as follows: “The opinion polling firm Consultores 21 showed in its biweekly re-count that Capriles now has a 4-point advantage over his opponent, a new result from previous studies. The difference, according to this poll, is Capriles 48% vs. Hugo Chávez 44% of the intention to vote. Previous results by the same firm had reflected a virtual tie, 45,9% for Chávez and 45,8% for Capriles.”
However, the results presented by these polling firms disagree with the ones provided by other enterprises; including the group “Social Investigation of the XXI Century” run by Jesse Chacón, former minister of Interior and Justice of the current regime; its results placed Chávez with an advantage of 56% against 30% of Capriles.