We will report tomorrow about the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) on the compatibility of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a permanent solidarity and stability fund due to take over from the temporary EFSF in January 2013, with the German Grundgesetz (Constitution). In the meantime, check out the latest newsletter by the Venezuelan Student Movement, who has been informing us for many weeks on the developments of the presidential electoral campaign! In my opinion, Chavez seems afraid to lose and develops undemocratic speeches and methods… Pierre-Antoine KLETHI
The following report summarizes the most important developments regarding the election process in Venezuela between the 29th and the 5th of September 2012.
In a week marked by the electoral simulation -where for the first time the same ballot to be used on Election Day was employed- it became apparent that the country has endured a tense environment for the last few months. On Sunday 2nd of September, four members of the Comando Venezuela (opposition) were wounded by gunshots. Numerous reports of abuse, violence and political proselytism by members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (ruling party) throughout the entire country were reported; the passive attitude of “Plan República” -the Bolivarian National Armed Forces’ mission to ensure the security of the electoral process- lead us to understand that instructions to do their job were and continue to be at the very least precarious not to say non-existent. Furthermore, it struck our attention how in the midst of a presidential election, the president, Hugo Chávez, dismissed accusations regarding the brutal murder of over 80 members of the indigenous ethnicity Yanomami in the State of Amazonas. We will have to wait and see if these crimes, along with the collapse of Cúpira bridge (main highway connection with the east-side of the country) and the terrible Amuay Refinery tragedy, will have any effect on the vote intention of the average Venezuelan, at the forthcoming presidential elections just next month.
1. Electoral Simulation
On September 2nd 2012, the second voting simulation for presidential elections took place. For this particular drill, 1,553 voting centres were installed, along with the accommodation of 4,800 voting tables for citizens to participate.
The president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, emphasized in a press conference the “great smoothness” with which the citizens participated in “the exercise of dealing with the Integrated Authentication System (SAI), which forms part of the comprehensive Venezuelan electoral system, along with the voting machine ballot” (1). For their part, both presidential candidates spoke in reference to the electoral simulation. The serving president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavéz, and the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, encouraged the Venezuelan people through their twitter accounts to participate in the voting simulation. (2)
Even though the process unfolded smoothly in several states of the country, four members of the Comando Venezuela where wounded by gunshot after the drill had ended in the Escuela Básica Santa Bárbara in the state of Zulia. Freddy Gómez, representative of the state’s Legislative Council, denounced that the mayor of the township Francisco Javier Pulgar, Luis Ruda, along with his bodyguards, charged against more than 300 people that were gathered in the campaign module of the opposition who were completing the act of closure of the electoral simulation. More than 60 gun shells and a Glockpistol were found at site (3).
2. Sanctions to the electoral propaganda
Last Thursday august 30th, the National Electoral Council (CNE) carried out eight administrative inquiries given the alleged violations of the laws and regulations that govern the electoral process. Counting last week’s fourteen procedures, the inquiries sum up twenty two (consult previous Bulletins) (4). Amongst them are inquiries to the Comando Venezuela for exceeding the permitted space in the journal El Nacional, having used more than half a page and secondly, because of surpassing allowed three minutes for political spots in Globovisión and Meridiano TV. On the other hand, Comando Carabobo, the president’s campaign team, was sanctioned for placing propaganda in public places, such as a banner in the Antímano subway station in Caracas, as well as posters in a Center of Integral Attention (CAI).
Other inquiries correspond to the journal Nuevo Día of Falcón and to the TV stations Globovisión and Venezolana de Televisión -the latter a state owned TV station- for infringing the requirement to place the number of the Financial Information Registry (RIF) in the respective propagandas. The cases deal with the same violation of article 4 of the Special Bylaw of Propagandas and article 204, numeral 5, of the General Bylaw of the Organic Law of Electoral Processes.
Meanwhile, the National Electoral Council suspended a political TV spot of the political party Voluntad Popular (VP), called “Safety is the way” referring to the lack of safety Venezuelans experience in the streets. VP’s lawyer, Carlos Vechio, points out that the suspension shouldn’t have had to take place, given that the spot does not call upon citizens to vote nor does it refer to any particular candidacy. He quoted article 202 of the General Bylaw of the Organic Law of Electoral Processes, where “electoral propaganda” is defined: “(…) the set of elements and publicity pieces, disseminated and exposed through all means and that encourage voting for a specific candidacy” (5). Nevertheless, the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) pointed out that the spot violates “article 75 of the Organic Law of Electoral Processes, where it’s indicated that propaganda that assaults the mental health of the citizens will not be permitted” (6).
3. Capriles Radonski’s proposals
On Monday, September 3rd, presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski presented the “Construyendo juntos tu progreso” (“Building your own progress together”) plan, which gathers related proposals to problems about infrastructure, water, roads and transportation. (7)
Among the highlighted problems by the candidate is electricity, pointing that the country produces 2,400 megawatts less than those 16,500 needed. Capriles stated that four million Venezuelans do not have regular access to drinkable water and that 70% of roads and 90% of bridges are in disrepair. He also pointed out that the transportation system of the country is “inefficient and unsafe”, that infrastructures for education are needed and that there are more than 60 thousand homeless, due to previous natural disasters.
Capriles Radonski promises the recovery of 82 hospitals, the rehabilitation of four important highways, an elevation in the offer of domestic gas and the building of 1,000 schools. Capriles reaffirmed his “Plan Mi Primer Empleo” (“My first job” Plan), which consists in the creation of more than one million jobs for Venezuela’s youth; as well as his “Plan Tu Segunda Oportunidad” (“Your second chance” Plan), for people with no permanent job in a productive age.
4. Capriles Radonski’s declarations generate controversy for the current government
Henrique Capriles Radonski, on August 31st made declarations in a campaign act in the state of Bolivar, which generated controversy in the government’s side. The candidate promised public workers, that if he gets elected on October 7th, no public worker will be forced to “use a shirt of certain colour”; for that reason he considers that above any tendency, party or colour, lays the commitment with the country, the basic industry and their job. Capriles assured “I do not want servile workers for me. I want workers that put the interests of their country above the interests of a certain political party. We do not want ass lickers”. (8)
President and candidate, Hugo Chávez, referred to the comments expressing “That Mister is more desperate each day. Now he started calling the country’s workers “ass lickers” (…) you are the ass licker “majunche” (loser pig) of the imperialism. “Majunche” you are an ass licker of the bourgeoisie, of those that sell their own country. You are an ass licker, irresponsible man. We are going to give him the award to the best ass licker, because he is the first ass licker here”. (9) Furthermore, Chávez continued saying that Capriles is “dissociated of reality” and that he was “chosen” by the bourgeoisie to “carry Venezuela through the road of violence”, menacing also that the Bolivarian Revolution is pacific, but not “unarmed”. (10)
Following the same line, the President declared on “Unión Radio” that the country would enter a deep crisis if Henrique Capriles Radonski gets elected in the forthcoming elections on. He accused his opponent of having a “hidden neoliberal package”, and he stressed: “Capriles pretends to bring back a Venezuela that would not resist this, and would enter into a new disastrous scenario, in a deep destabilization (…) that would make us closer, maybe, to a civil war”. (11)
Luis Vicente Leon, president of the polling agency “Datanálisis”, considers that these warnings have more political connotations than literal ones -not representing a real risk of having a civil war-. “If there is no Chávez then chaos comes, if there is no Chávez then the civil war comes, if there is no Chávez then the coup comes. The President is putting a high price in voting for Capriles: a country of war, convulsing”, he explained. (12)
Studies made by the polling agency “Consultores 21”, during the first two weeks of August; show Capriles as favourite for the first time. The poll is based on one thousand interviews. Capriles leads with 47.7%, while Chávez is down with 45.9%. The number of undecided voters comprises a 6.4%. However, the margin of error of the study in comentois of 3.2%, thus with 1.8% difference, a technical draw is implied. (13)
Studies made between August 17th and 27th by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), which comprises 1.200 interviews made throughout the country, establish something different. In accordance with their results, the voting intention leans towards president Chávez at the moment, with a 50.8% and only with a 32.4% to Capriles Radonski, while 16.8% remains undecided. Also, the study shows that 61.4% of the undecided people consider that president Chávez will be elected, 25% believes that Capriles will turn out as the winner and 13.6% does not know what to answer. (14)