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Results of Venezuela Elections: Let the spinning begin!

By Miguel Octavio | The Devil's Excrement

09.08.05 | Well, the spinning began in earnest this afternoon, after the CNE finally announced that abstention was indeed 70%, but even more surprising, even for the opposition was the fact that the Chavistas, including the trick of the morochas, only obtained 58% of the number of city councilmen up for grabs. This, despite a confident Hugo Chavez saying this morning on TV that his party had obtained 80% of the seats and abstention was irrelevant, that what mattered was the huge triumph by his party.

Let us first look at the results. Consolidated results are hard to get, the CNE has on its website a center by center total, which makes it very difficult to get numbers, particularly when you take into account that everyone is checking and thus it is very heavy. But in any case the data is too large and it can not be found yet in a single table. What we do know is that Chavez MVR gave results in a press conference that is not yet on any website saying that they got 58% of the total number of seats being voted on, which includes the totals from both the lists and the direct election, the so called “morochas” or twin trick. This means that if we assume that the Chavistas got one individual candidate per municipality, roughly the Chavismo received 50% of the vote, if not less. Even more remarkable, in the same press conference MVR leaders said that in Zulia state, the one with the largest population of the country, the combination MVR/UVE obtained only 7% of all seats. This is really surprising, more so, given that it was the opposition that was on the side of abstention and the Chavistas worked very hard to get the vote out, had buses to take people to vote, offered food and closed by extending voting hours beyond what the law allows to try to improve the numbers.

After saying all week that abstention will be at a historical low in the elections, the Head of the Electoral Board CNE, kept lying all day saying abstention was normal. It was anything but normal, in fact, abstention in the last election in which city councilmen were elected was 48.2%, a far cry from the 69.2% that we had yesterday. With his characteristic arrogance, Rodriguez or “Jorgito” then asked Venezuelans to look abroad, as if a tradition of voting in Venezuela was irrelevant and gave numbers that are not in agreement with what is in the CNE website. (Where, curiously, I could not find all of the data from the 2000 election, but maybe I am slow today).

In the end, there was no explanation for why it took almost 24 hours to “know” the final results after spending US$ 200 million in voting machines and some $60 million dollars in the infrastructure to process the data real time. This followed his cynical explanations for violating the law when the voting hours were extended, in violation of the law, which was justified by saying “What do you expect to say to those in line”, but of course, there was nobody in line.

In the end, abstention will need to be evaluated by everyone. By the Chavistas, because it sends a message that people are not as happy as they like to think. People are not happy in the barrios, people don’t want Venezuela to be like Cuba, and they care little about socialism and other Latin American countries. They care about their daily life and that one has not improved much under Chavez. For the opposition there is also a message. If some opposition groups had not promoted abstention, the results may have been truly earth shaking with an opposition victory, despite the resources, the treachery and abuse of power of the country.

Note added: The detailed results have not been posted to the CNE website yet. I tried to get some "extreme" (for and against each side) cases of total number of votes, to no avail. All I recall from the press conference is that Chavez' MVR got about 50% in Yaracuy, 7% in Zulia, 100% in Vargas and 58 % overall. Can't find any reference to it either and all the TV is showing is Chavez seeing the parade of the delegates to the Youth Congress. These guys parade as if they were athletes, but as far as I know they will be just talking BS this week here in Caracas with all expenses paid by yours truly.

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