Venezuela Election 9/26 a Test of Chavez Leadership – Updated with Election Results

Posted on September 27, 2010


This past Sunday, Venezuelans went to the polls to elect all members of parliament.  Leaders of the opposition to President Hugo Chavez have cited it as a test of Chavez’s government and socialist reforms:

“We want a total change,” Dieter Jaaniorg, a voter at a polling station in Caracas, said.

He said he is fed up with crime, a bad economy and an authoritarian government.

Cristian, his younger brother, said they see it as a last chance for the opposition to show it can stand up to Chavez.

“If we don’t win today, it’s straight to communism,” he said.

Chavez is hailed by supporters as a champion of Venezuela’s poor communities. But he is denounced by critics as a dictator.

His popularity is in the 40-50 per cent range – well below his highs in previous years. But that is probably enough to ensure that his party retains a majority.

Some are actually voicing their desire to return to democracy:

Margarita Lopez Maya, an opposition candidate, told Al Jazeera she stopped supporting Chavez because he turned away from democracy.

Opposition members cautioned that their people should remain at the polls to ensure that the correct color ballots were put in the boxes.  But Chavez touted the accuracy of the machines and asked people to respect the outcome.  He taunted the opposition by saying he hoped they would not launch another impeachment drive as they did in 2004.

There was an unbelievably large turnout for the vote.  Results should be known by late Monday. [AlJazeera/English]

UPDATE 9/27

Venezuela: Chávez’s Party Wins Elections But Ends Up Short of Two-Thirds Majority

57.58% versus 38.79%Hugo Chávez’s party the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) obtained 95 deputies in the 165-member unicameral National Assembly — in other words 58% of the seats.  The opposition captured 64 seats, 39% of the National Assembly, denying the Chávez government and its supporters the two-thirds majority that they sought.  In the Latin American Parliament elections, the PSUV won 6 of the 12 seats.  The turnout was 66%.

PSUV’s national campaign coordinator Aristóbulo Istúriz said, “We couldn’t achieve it [the two-thirds majority].  Nevertheless, we have obtained, so far, 95 deputies, an overwhelming majority, a really overwhelming victory. . . .  It clearly makes us the strongest political force in our country.” [mrzine.monthlyreview.org]