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On missing the real story: a somewhat misreported election

By Pedro Mario Burelli | PMBComments

08.12.05 | The usually alert and savvy team at the Economist must have forgotten to read the very harsh post-election reports of the OAS and the EU when they neglectfully state in "Chávez’s clean sweep" that: "...the president will be pleased that monitors from the European Union and the Organisation of American States observed no major disturbances." This grave omission renders this whole article futile….but I will use it as context to continue analyzing the outcome of the less than fair and transparent elections.

I have a feeling that - some in the international press and within certain foreign ministries - in the beating-the-dead-horse dash to lash at the "hapless' opposition leadership (i.e. the heads of AD, Copei, PJ, MAS…and I forget the others) fail to account for the fact that - months ago - polls began to predict that the abstention rate for this “all important” parliamentary election would be in the neighborhood of 80% (Keller). Such projections came as a surprise then to many given the purported popularity of Mr. Chávez and the costly, desperate - and ILLEGAL - attempts by the government to get the vote out (i.e. buy, cajole and concoct).

The sad truth is that the parties we all love to mock had stopped being players in this game a long time ago. Their late and unrehearsed exit might have actually saved them somewhat from the deserved consequences of their habitual foolishness.

Clearly the population was long intending on going against Chávez's wishes of being "legitimized" once more by a less than perfect election. The parties were willing to negotiate principles and admit illegality just to go back to a National Assembly in which they have been less effective and noticed than the inventory tags on their chairs. Ergo, the last minute decision by a these “political parties” to boycott the election is NOT the story AT ALL!

The REAL STORY is that the vast majority (83% and counting upwards as we await the final tally of null votes) of voting age Venezuelans opted to BOYCOTT the quintessential act in any democracy because they had no other means to effectively express their opposition, fear, lack of confidence, or loss of patience at the way the political elite – those in power and those sensibly powerless – have been conducting the affairs of the state.

The clear losers here were the authoritarian government and the political parties that failed to hear and interpret both a nation’s plea and its deafening silence.

The TRUE STORY here is that after 7 years people are fed up with all things Chávez. This may not mean they are ready to go back to the now "100% demonized past", but it certainly means that Chávez has been robbed of the weapon that made him so menacing. No longer can he state ANYWHERE that his crooked brand of populism is backed by those he proclaims to be helping.

This Sunday’s election proves that the only gullible people around are those that failed to understand the true story by the time the polls opened, or worse those who continue to insist on the contrary after the votes were counted and the damming observer’s reports were delivered. PMB

Note: Chávez has used his histrionic talents to obliterate the demonstrable fact that 97% of everything in Venezuela – paved roads, ports, schools, oil installations, parks, hospitals…and so on, predates his oil-bonanza-blessed-but-corruption-tainted-pseudo-revolution). Demonizing the past has been quite easy because the decrepit parties have been unable to defend their many deeds or unwilling to expiate their many misdeeds. Furthermore, hoodwinking the population into believing that a future without him was simply a return of the past, has kept him popular longer than would have been the case if a palatable alternative had been forged from among the 85% of the population that said ENOUGH is ENOUGH this past Sunday.

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