How Chávez lost the popular vote, but won by a landslide in The Washington Post

October 1, 2010

The only thing missing is that they pass a Law that elects as President in 2012 the one that gets fewer votes

HUGO CHÁVEZ must be feeling grateful to the number-crunchers who helped him redraw Venezuela’s congressional districts. The strongman turned last weekend’s National Assembly election into a referendum on himself; he inundated the country with propaganda via the state-controlled media and even refilled government food stores. The result was an unmistakable rebuff. On a day of heavy turnout, 52 percent of voters chose opposition parties, vs. 48 percent for Mr. Chávez’s Socialists.

In a normal democratic country — even in Venezuela itself up until this year — that outcome would have produced something close to a tie between government and non-government deputies in the congress. Instead, thanks to the blatant gerrymandering he ordered, Mr. Chávez probably will have 98 seats, compared with 67 for the main opposition coalition and a small leftist party. That allowed the caudillo to claim victory in a news conference, during which he heaped abuse on a reporter who dared to ask about the discrepancy between votes and seats.

Mr. Chávez, however, didn’t deliver the victory address he had planned from the balcony of the presidential palace — an encouraging sign that he grasps the election’s real implications. In addition to the popular repudiation, the result means that beginning in December, Mr. Chávez should no longer have the ability to rule by decree or to appoint supreme court justices and members of the electoral authority without the opposition’s consent. He also faces the threat that his announced plan to rule Venezuela for at least another decade will be interrupted in 2012, when a presidential election is due that should be decided by majority vote.

There was good reason for Mr. Chávez’s loss: Alone in Latin America, Venezuela is still deep in recession, and it leads the hemisphere in inflation and violent crime. A normal democratic leader might respond by correcting errant or highly unpopular policies, such as Mr. Chávez’s steady nationalization of the economy or his import of Cuban advisers and intelligence operatives. His record, however, suggests that the president will merely step up his attacks on opposition leaders and journalists — a number of whom have been imprisoned or driven into exile — and seek to circumvent the new checks on his power.

Mr. Chávez’s apologists will be pointing to the congressional vote as proof that he still leads a democracy. But in democracies, elections produce consequences in line with the results. In Mr. Chávez’s Venezuela, they usually lead to less democracy.

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17 Responses to “How Chávez lost the popular vote, but won by a landslide in The Washington Post”

  1. island canuck Says:

    I agree Antonio

  2. A_Antonio Says:

    I recommend to read the article in eluniversal.com, an interview to Ángel Álvarez, professor of UCV and Director of the Political Investigation Institute.

    He is also agreeing in the recommendation to not offer to soon a candidate to 2012 election. With more pre-candidates emerge now, better, at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 opposition can go to primaries, with two rounds.

  3. Juancho Says:

    “His record, however, suggests that the president will merely step up his attacks on opposition leaders and journalists — a number of whom have been imprisoned or driven into exile — and seek to circumvent the new checks on his power.”

    Mark my word, the above will be the source of considerable conflict over the coming months.

    Chavez is rarely considered in telling psychological terms (kook and buffoon meet the man but not the criteria). He first and foremost is a military man, used to having his orders followed to the letter. The idea of a democratic process is not only foreign, but a blow to the grandios ego of the caudillo. Look how he bristles when someone challenges his position. Have you EVER, even one time, seen him answer a tough question without attacking the messenger? The French correspondent, the British correspondent before, and so forth. Now here will be people putting the screws to Sr. Presidente and one of them, very soon, will not be cowed by his bombast and when he has no wiggle room and HAS to respond, we might finally see the real pathology behind this madman. Anyway, he e will NEVER compromise with a divided assembly and will simply do what he pleases no matter what.

    This could get ugly very soon, because Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is not about to change – or that, we may be sure.

    Juancho

  4. A_Antonio Says:

    Why the moral Choice is go always against Chavez?

    Now in Spain, was recently arrested and putted in jail a 1992 Carlos Andres Perez military bodyguard of 1992, with an order of extradition to Venezuela. Accused and sentenced in absent to 18 years of prison by the charge of homicide in the coup of 1992.

    Today and abroad we felt the hate and the illegalities of an evil regime.

  5. A_Antonio Says:

    firepigette, Roy:

    Well, What I mean is the objective is to save country, better by wining to Chavez in 2012 election. Go against principles is change side and become a Chavizta because is provably and more easy that PSUV win all the elections legally or not, and provably you will become richer out of your more greedy dreams.

    If we not win the 2012 election, there is not choice but maintaining the politic and pacific war, but there it will be a better country sooner if we play wisely to win as soon as possible, and think in the next generations that will be happier.

    But for the ones in Venezuela, and others that live abroad, the moral choice is go against Chavez, and prefer to die stand up than live over the knees.

  6. firepigette Says:

    Roy,

    Antonio said:

    “You not fight the battles because you know can win; you fight the battles that principles tell you to fight, no matters the outcome”

    then you said:

    “I agree with your sentiment completely. Our principles tell us what is worth fighting for. But let us engage in this conflict wisely and choose the timing and location of our battles to assure victory in the end.”

    If you agreed with him COMPLETELY then you would realize that he said that winning was secondary to principles.Assuring victory often dictates going against some form of principle.

    It is not that I always object to that, but I think it is important to stay clear on what we are actually saying.

  7. A_Antonio Says:

    Roy:

    I agree with you, that’s why is important that opposition choose a good and united way to elect a candidate to 2012. Time will be everything, not too soon not too late, as also is important find a 2012 election when every vote can be securely counted.

  8. metodex Says:

    Now the ambassador in USA,Bernardo Alvarez already sent an open letter to the Washington post.

    http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=163877

  9. Roy Says:

    Antonio,

    I agree with your sentiment completely. Our principles tell us what is worth fighting for. But let us engage in this conflict wisely and choose the timing and location of our battles to assure victory in the end.

    The image of Don Quixote is moving, but in the end, I prefer to be principled AND victorious than righteous yet defeated. The words of Sun Tzu do not move the soul like those of Miguel de Cervantes, but they do win wars: “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”

    See also: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/sun_tzu.html

  10. metodex Says:

    After all this discussion im quite happy about the results anyways. Although those 2 PPT guys will make the difference IMO.

    I’d like to see what laws will be approved before January and then whats gonna happen then,how many deputies will be sent to jail and all that human rights violation shit,while they still get away with it.

  11. firepigette Says:

    Antonio, very good:

    “You not fight the battles because you know can win; you fight the battles that principles tell you to fight, no matters the outcome.’

  12. geronl Says:

    The American left pretty solidly supports every radical leftwing dictator and tyranny on Earth. It is their knee-jerk reaction to do so.

  13. loroferoz Says:

    Good. Let Chavez behave after this election as he always does. His loss. Total, I hope.

    I wonder if Venezuela will suffer the fate of Argentina, in having to pay eternal lip service to some authoritarian moron (and his literal widows and lovers) and to the retreaded totalitarianism and unabashed vulgarity that passed for ideology when he was in power (sound familiar?).

    I am an optimist that Venezuelans will let chavismo fail spectacularly and that no one will want to take up it’s legacy in the future. I am also confident that we Venezuelans will learn our lesson.

    It almost seemed, before 1996, that we Venezuelans could actually forgo having to know what it is to have a “Revolutionary” government (read really crappy ideas from 1922-1924) in power. The worst came to pass, and you can only wish that the idiot that got into power with such ideas takes them with him on the way out and into oblivion. To me, there is nothing to redeem in them.

  14. Ana María Says:

    This demonstrates how easily the government can now bend the country’s institutions to suit its electoral purpose. Here’s another article about what happened: http://bit.ly/9DXaV2

    Follow us on: http://www.facebook.com/WhatsNextVenezuela

  15. Khyber Says:

    Loved the artical. There was something similar in german newspapers as well. Sadly I don’t speak german, and had a friend translate it to me while we were at her house. I’m glad to see that media in many countries is starting to attack him. The only sad thing is that Brazil will not dare cause any problems with Venezuela, and their new president to be will likely only cozy up to him even more.

  16. metodex Says:

    i love being a journalism student. These kind of posts really motivate me.

  17. A_Antonio Says:

    I would like to honor now all bloggers and commentators, that tell the true to the World. This editorial tells things that John, MO and all commentators can tells others in other places, and this is not a lie of an Imperialistic Newspaper.

    Washington Post journalists take the “imperialistic” luxury to unveil the Watergate Scandal that force the resign Nixon.

    You not fight the battles because you know can win; you fight the battles that principles tell you to fight, no matters the outcome.


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