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Venezuela Municipal Elections: some symbolic results

By Daniel Duquenal | Venezuela News and Views

09.08.05 | Finally, the extremely slow CNE page is releasing some results. I have compared what can be compared, that is the list votes to council folks and the list votes for the state assemblies of October 2004, which were already much lower than the votes for governor or mayor. Of course, this is assuming that what the CNE publishes ressembles the truth.

San Felipe is lost for the opposition. In October 2004 with 34% abstention, the Chavez candidate got 5 894 votes. Yesterday the chavista list got 6 006, a thin increase. The opposition had carried San Felipe for Lapi's party with 9 996. Now it has 2 853, a drop of 71%. So, before anyone says that the talent of Gimenez at the Yaracuy state since late 2004 is responsible for the victory, I would suggest that they get their calculator and verify these numbers. Any victory of chavismo in San Felipe is by forfeit. Chavismo might be happy to gain the town hall but it is a hollow victory. If fair elections ever come again to Yaracuy, they should worry about their seats as they have failed to grow after 10 months in office except for the newly registered voters as per the change in public workers that moved to San Felipe. I do not think that the drop in Convergencia vote is solely due to pro Lapi public workers moving out..... As for the opposition, in flawed 2004 elections it still managed to retain San Felipe. They could have retained town hall. Now they will have to deal with the chavista folks in town hall, harakiri is thy name.

Caracas Park Avenue, Chacao, remains Primero Justicia. In 2004 Chacao voted 20 844 for the state assembly in spite of an already strong abstention movement (something that did not happen in Yaracuy). This time the PJ list dropped to 14 693, a solid 30% FURTHER drop. Chavismo was 4 402 and this time drops to 3 120! A 25%! And those are some of the rich chavistas (Rodriguez among many lives in Chacao, in a luxurious pent house, I was told).

Baruta, middle and upper middle class stays PJ. 37 797 in October 2004, but this time 12 395!! Yet chavismo goes from 9 011 to 6 359. So, there is chavista abstention even though by voting they would have had a chance to improve their holdings in Baruta and embarrass PJ. But the anger of the middle class for the system cannot be hidden anymore, even the middle class chavistas as I assume there are some in Baruta.

Chavismo abstains in popular Caracas neighborhoods. Sort of looking at random I picked El Valle, a low middle class and lower class neighborhood. In October the MVR, Chavez list, got 17 985. This time it got 10 485. A 42% drop is just not normal, no matter what spin chavismo puts on, in particular when the October 2004 elections had already some abstention effect in the Caracas area, including El Valle. Interestingly although not a PJ area this one did run a list both times but experienced a slight increase! From 905 to 1032. In 2004 the MAS (center left) was running in the union list with PJ but this time went alone. And its vote, although meager, also went up from 145 to 479. Thus clearly there is something else going on in El Valle: the locals are not happy with the infamous Bernal, at the very least, and some are unhappy enough to go out to vote for someone else.

PJ points its nose in the provinces. In Lecherias PJ gets 2 501 votes to 842 for the MVR! Up from the 1 320 from 2004 whereas MVR actually goes down from its 1 211 result! Even if Lecherias is a rather open area that lives on tourism and thus more open to the language of PJ, it is still a demonstration that with time an effort PJ can get a few townhalls outside of Caracas. But in Maracay more affluent Las Delicias PJ fails to pierce even it it gets into second place, probably victim of abstention, and a heavy wealthy military component in the neighborhood cashing on Chavez bonanza. Thus the MVR gets 4 070 to PJ 973. AD is a distant memory in Las Delicias.

Proyecto Venezuela in big trouble. In the affluent Naguanagua district the PV list vote went down from a 2004 total of 13 545 to a stunning 1 995! The lack of fighting spirit of Salas Feo, the defeated and more than likely cheated out ex governor might have had something to do with it as his electors just abandoned his party! In rural Bejuma it is a complete collapse. PV goes down to 111 from a 2 388 in 2004! The implosion of PV is just a major fact of this election as even in Caracas very affluent El Hatillo district, PJ takes the majority of the town hall and they are not in best term with the barely reelected and very questioned PV mayor Catalan who probably worries as of today of a Recall Election on him next year, even if PJ does not ask for one.

AD in trouble too. Monagas state was a bastion of AD. Well, apparently no more. In one of the state capital Maturin districts, San Simon, AD drops to third with 1 889. It had 16 348 less than a year ago! But MVR has nothing to write home about. It also drops to 11 308 from a high of 20 445. But apparently some divisions among chavismo there is responsible for that result. Yet, the drop is impressive! In Lara we can see more trouble for AD. It seems that the division tactics of AD there affected any recovery it might have hoped. In Barquisimeto's Catedral parish we can see the order of players evolve. In 2004 we had MVR with 14 412, PJ with 1 309 and AD with 1 304. In second was a coalition now gone but whose main party was OFM with 3 617. Today we see MVR with 9 573 (chavismo suffers as in Caracas, even in militant Lara), PJ gets a decent 1 167 which brings it to a sudden second in an area which is not very favorable a priori, OFM drops to 4 with 978 votes and AD to a distant 6th with 826! Though there is a chavismo dissidence with the Communist party getting a third position with 1 079 as governor Reyes Reyes dynastic intentions are causing trouble in chavismo rank and file. Thus AD seems to continue its decomposition as its isolationistic and arrogant position is not bringing the dividend it hopes even when chavismo falls back some.

Even in Margarita island where it holds a governor, AD is not faring much better. Porlamar, the main city of the state, sees AD go down form a 2004 of 4 220 to a 3 085 today. Each time, even though the MVR is rather unpopular in Margarita whose tourism industry has suffered through currency controls and import restrictions, the MVR wins, in 2004 with 7 153 and yesterday with 3 903, admittedly a spectacular drop! Chavismo CAN lose votes!

Conclusions?. There is no need this time to make a deep analysis as I did in previous electoral moments. Besides, the nefarious role of the now infamous CNE is even more perturbing, even less favorable for a serious analysis of the real trends of the country as it was in October or August 2004. The only conclusion that one might dare to draw is that chavismo is much more vulnerable than thought at first. But we can also conclude that the opposition is far from showing any ability to gain from this. PJ ascendancy is far from assured though of all the opposition parties it is the only one that can lick its wounds. AD is not yet dead but it is corpse like in texture. The others are pretty much history or reduced to local accidents such as Rosales in Zulia state or Copei reduced to Tachira. PV might be gone. The center left is not even ready to run in competitive elections. However those conclusions are drawn, and I must insist on that, under the light of the consequences of an ethically corrupt CNE who has deeply damaged the electoral act.

A much more interesting post to be written later is to study how come chavismo has such a sudden weakness. Or to discuss what the abstention camp, a very meager victor, and an ineffectual one, will offer now. But that will have to wait for another day.

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