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Results in Venezuela start to clear up

By Daniel Duquenal

02.11.04 - This is a very preliminary analysis of the results, and I might have to correct myself. But since in this land of magical realism the very same CNE allows itself to publish "unofficial" results, this blogger can certainly be forgiven for taking example. After all, if the higher authority is into unofficial, one can wonder where the heck is official.

The first striking conclusion as I am starting to have access to real results, and as sitting governors start conceding defeat is that the disunion of the opposition and its abstention are the main factors by far in their defeat. True, Chavez lavished money and his own persona in local contests but it seems to me that these gifts from El Supremo enhanced the victory of his supporters more than actually creating it. I can see that in Lara and in Merida in particular.

Any Chavez apparition probably was worth 5% more in the results, at least for the week that followed his apparition but in Merida and Lara that was not the case as he did not visit these states. These Chavez visits probably had more of an effect in Yaracuy and Tachira. But in Merida it is difficult to understand how a conservative state has so completely fallen into the chavista camp. No, the explanation there is to be found at the level of local divisions between adecos and others which sunk both to unexpected depths. Having been taken for granted for so long, Merida denizens found it refreshing to be courted by chavismo.

The results that the CNE page is emitting are rather surprising. I will take Yaracuy, just as I seeing them this morning, a few minutes ago.

Gimenez..........76 822....49,6%
Lapi.............74 934....48,4%

Now let's look at the result for the state assembly vote

Gimenez coalition.....45 517.....41,2%
Lapi coalition........60 715.....54,9%

Any "connoisseur" of Venezuelan elections knows full well that this is impossible. It would be the first case where a major candidate has less votes, percentage wise, than his/her party. That can happen for minor candidates where vote crossing is rather frequent, but as far as I know I have never seen it in major candidates. What is even stranger is that it seems to be also the case in Carabobo! As Salas Feo said there, it is like putting the cart in front of the oxen.

This needs following and relates quite well to what I reported earlier on, selective reporting of results for political interests.

On other news. Monagas and Bolivar governors have conceded. That was unfortunately predictable as I had ranked these two states as vulnerable, in particular Bolivar. They were reasonably good governor, but Monagas's Call was an adeco old style and their time is past. Bolivar's Rojas Suarez was an ex chavista in a red state without his own party and just an heterogeneous opposition coalition to support him. Not to mention that he was questioned (I reported long ago the disgust of Milagros Socorro on such a selection, which I shared, though pragmatically he was the only choice there). So his defeat is not surprising and his good work, such as it might be, was not enough in front of the gigantic amounts of money that Chavez spent there.

AD is looking grim even if bravely Ramos Allup stated that AD was still the major party of the opposition (whatever that means) and that it would go solo to rewrite its programs to attract back the voters (good luck!). But the reality that is already seen is that AD is history and that with only the Nueva Esparta state, it has little to brag about. Rosales in Zulia, even as an ex Adeco, has managed to free himself of that label and he needs AD much less than this one needs Rosales. Well, at least I have the consolation to see AD lose big.

Rosales after another scare last night seems finally on his way to be confirmed once and for all. Last night the chavista candidate came out again, Carabobo style, to claim a close race. Perhaps he thought that the CNE would manage to "find" votes. But now it seems that Rosales will get a 54% to the votes. Which is less than what I thought he would get (at least 60%), but then Chavez pushed hard and spent heavy there, trying to erase the stink of the strike in Zulia and rewrite history by claiming that the people of Zulia were with him during the strike and that only "a few" were trying to sabotage the oil industry. Well, sorry, but Zulia IS NOT with Chavez. Well, at least at 8 AM this morning.

On the anecdotal side, the PPT, a minor Chavez ally, managed to pick 31 town halls. Its leader has said that it will require a sworn statement of the elected officials so as to prove that they will not get rich during their tenure. One does not whether to cry or to laugh! Have they no shame? Does he think that ANYONE will believe that?

And to finish with a flourish. Foreign minister Jesus Perez seems very pleased by the monochromatic Venezuelan result. Apparently he is the type of people that like "single teams", stalinistically one would presume. It probably comes from his young student days as a communist agitator in France. At any rate, it would be easier for him, or so he thinks, to present Venezuela as a shiny example of the people united behind its beloved leader and the glorious revolution. Maybe some one should murmur in his left ear that foreign ministers of Eastern Europe, or Cuba and North Korea, were never the most popular or the most influent. Perhaps his good friends at the French embassy could coach him some before he makes "un derrière" of himself.

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