Monday, September 27, 2010

Venezuelan parliamentary election 2010

We do not want the Communist system
because it goes against our Constitution
and the rights that strengthen the lives of people

(Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino,
September 22, 2010)

Today, 26 September of 2010, there is an important day in Venezuela. Today the parliamentary election took place to elect the 165 deputies to the National Assembly. 110 of these deputies are constituency representatives elected on a first-past-the-post system (in 87 electoral districts), 52 elected on a party list system (2 or 3 deputies per state of Venezuela, depending on population), and 3 seats are reserved for indigenous peoples, with separate rules. Additionally, 12 representatives are chosen for the Latin American Parliament.

A total of 6465 candidates have registered with the National Electoral Council by the June deadline. Around 17.5m of the country's 28.5m population are eligible to vote. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), with around 7 million members, is by far the largest party in the country by membership.

While the election results outcomes are not clear yet, it is not a surprise that World observers are closely watching the process of election as the results might significantly change the political realities of the South America and the whole World in a way.


Current political realities

Pro-government parties are expected to face a strong opposition in the 167-unicameral National Assembly election. Opposition parties boycotted the vote in 2005. This time they see votes in Venezuelans' discontent with the gloomy economy, electricity rationing and revelations of graft. Leftist President Hugo Chavez' control of the legislature isn't under threat, but significant gains for the opposition could see him having to work harder to have his way. Political observers see the chance of instability ahead of the vote.

Government supporters and critics have taken to the streets in rival demonstrations that promise to continue up to and well past the election, regardless of the outcome.

Opposition parties have their own problems, and might not be able to translate the popular discontent into votes for their candidates. They are beset with divisions in their ranks and could have trouble finding candidates less tainted by corruption that the pro-government candidates. And the opposition accuses Chavez' National Electoral Council of gerrymandering seven of the country's 23 states, including the major cities of Caracas and Maracaibo, for the benefit of pro-government parties.

A recession combined with 25 per cent inflation, the highest in America, adds to the hardship for Venezuelans. The economy shrank 2.9 per cent in 2009 and is expected to continue to contract. Several banks have failed. Oil prices are volatile, a potential problem because Venezuelans are accustomed to cheap gas. The graft revelations are also undermining the popularity of the governing coalition.

Chavez, first elected in 1998, was re-elected in December 2006 with 61 percent of the vote. Since then, the president, who has a military background, has markedly intensified political reforms. On Feb. 15, 2009, Venezuelans voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to remove term limits on all elected offices.



Only a few days ago, Chávez stated unequivocally that "it is not true that Venezuela is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, nor is it true that today there is more violence here than there was 11 years ago." Facts, however, are stubborn things. Since 1999, when Chávez took office, no Latin American country has seen a more acute deterioration in personal safety than Venezuela. The country's homicide rate has gone from 20 per 100,000 people in 1998 to 49 per 100,000 in 2009 -- nine times as high as in the United States. This places Venezuela solidly among the world's most violent countries, alongside chronically bad cases such as Jamaica and Guatemala. In the capital city, Caracas, the rate is 122 per 100,000, a figure comparable only to that of Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican border town where drug traffickers are literally waging a war against the state and one other. Car theft rates, a good barometer of property crime (unlike other crimes, stolen cars are usually reported to the authorities), have also exploded from 69 per 100,000 people in 1998 to 155 in 2009.

No wonder, then, that crime -- according to nearly every opinion poll carried out in the run-up to the election -- tops voters' concerns by a large margin. In August, the Venezuelan Institute for Data Analysis (IVAD) reported that 84 percent of voters mentioned insecurity as a major concern, while less than half that percentage mentioned unemployment, the second most important issue to voters. So, the opposition is running neck and neck with Chávez's party and has a fighting chance of capturing a significant majority of the popular vote, though not of the heavily gerrymandered seats.

The government's anxiety is palpable. Since 2004, it has refused to release official crime figures, leaving the task of compiling them to NGOs. In August, the government-controlled judiciary cautioned El Nacional, an opposition newspaper, against publishing images related to "blood, weapons and terror messages." The warning followed the newspaper's controversial decision to publish a large cover photo of wounded corpses in Caracas's main morgue. True to form, Chávez has oscillated between blaming the remnants of capitalism for the mess and claiming that "the United States has infiltrated Venezuela … to kill, to kidnap people and then to say that Chávez can't [govern effectively]" -- that is, when he's not denying that crime is a problem altogether.


Hugo Chavez Appeal

The Venezuelan president used his Twitter account to make a comment about the parliament election held on Sunday. He urged people to consolidate the victory of his government project. He also told his supporters that he looks forward to meet with them at the Palace of Miraflores

President Hugo Chávez urged his supporters to "prepare to receive and accept the results," via his Twitter account @chavezcandanga. The President sent a message to his supporters.

"We are waiting (for the results). I ask everyone to prepare to receive and accept the results. It was another great day," Chávez said in his Twitter account.


Results are still unknown, but several polls predict the pro-Chavez forces to win a majority (and possibly two-thirds of all seats), in spite of the economic, political, and social situation. If that happens, Chavez would be once again given a mandate to deepen the revolution processes and to continue moving towards communist standards.

History does not teach! Communist ideology, while offering nice and attractive theories and slogans, in practice, is leading to the worst dictatorship and people oppression possible. I was born in the Communist country, I know that…


Sources and Additional Information:


Update 09-27-2010:

Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez maintained his sway in the National Assembly, with his ruling Socialist Party winning at least 90 of 165 seats that were up for grabs in Sunday’s congressional polls. However, Chavez failed to hold on to the two-thirds majority his party enjoyed in the Assembly, with the Opposition alliance getting as much as 60 seats, up from 12 last time. The results were declared early Monday morning by National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena. However, Opposition leader, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo called the delay in result publication ‘inadmissible’.

Both sides claim victory in Venezuela assembly vote. 

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