Archive for December 8th, 2015

Opposition Victory In Venezuela Was More Solid Than Sweeping

December 8, 2015

tablaTable with popular vote organized on the left alphabetically and on the right by percentage of the popular vote obtained by the opposition. I have placed a box over traditionally more pro-Chávez states where the opposition got more than the median of votes than in the Nation. (Based on last night’s percentages by CNE)

While it is easy to attempt to use the term sweeping in describing Sunday’s victory by the opposition last Sunday, a closer look at the data suggests that it was more of a solid than a sweeping victory. Solid, because what the opposition did was increase sharply its total number of votes  in the more rural States where it customarily lost badly to Chavismo, while solidifying its victory in its more traditional urban areas. Thus, it was more broad based victory in terms of total votes and a solid ground to be future strength upon.

This is not the narrative that most pollsters and politicians were telling us. We were told that it was the hyper rejection of the Government that would lead to a sweep in traditional opposition areas, which would lead to the opposition dragging rural States along and, if the victory was large enough, the possibility of a qualified majority in the National Assembly was within reach.

Instead, the opposition sharply increased its vote in Chavista States, which helped it obtain fairly uniform favorable results that gave it the 66% majority without reaching 60% of the vote.

As an example, the opposition swept all districts in 8 of the States of the country: Amazonas, Anzoategui, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Merida, Nueva Esparta and Vargas. This is a remarkable result, as only one, Mérida, can be considered to be a “traditional” opposition enclave.

In fact, the pattern repeats if one looks at the top ten states in which the opposition increased its votes  the most by percentage, a rank that goes roughly like (I have ignored decimals in the ranking): Guarico, Trujillo, Vargas, Aragua, Nueva Esparta, Capital District, Bolivar, Cojedes, Falcon and Zulia. All of these States increased from +10% to +8% on Sunday in terms of total votes for the opposition with respect to the 2013 Presidential election. But the top nine are all traditional Chavista strongholds and is only when we get to Zulia we get to a State considered to be more pro-opposition in the past.

Yes, the opposition swept Tachira, but only increased its vote by 3%. Meanwhile, string opposition States like Carabobo, only went up by 4%, with Miranda and Lara, gaining 7%, solid, but not the sharp increase of Chavista strongholds.

Thus, it was a solid victory by the opposition, which only lost ground by votes in sparsely populated Delta Amacuro, which gives it the chance to sow a future if it steers well its control of the National Assembly.

It is probably premature to interpret what this all means, but I would be inclined to say that this shows that the vote was more a rejection of Chavismo and Maduro’s Governmen than one of approval for the opposition.

This also seems to imply (to me) that the Assembly should concentrate in rebuilding institutionality and not in trying to replace the current Government. The winners may not be as popular as they think they are.