Fears Persist Among Venezuelan Voters Ahead of Election – NYTimes.com

Could Chávez lose his election? From the Lede we learn about “his strongest political challenge in Mr. Capriles as his government struggles with rampant crime, food shortages and high inflation.”

Adding to that anxiety, the government recently introduced a new electronic voting system that many Venezuelans fear might be used by the government to track those who vote against the president. Electoral officials and opposition leaders defend the integrity of the system, but there is significant distrust, and a big part of Mr. Capriles’s campaign has been to reassure voters that their votes will remain secret.

“The government has sown this fear,” Mr. Capriles said in an interview, adding that the reluctance of people to speak their mind skewed opinion polls in favor of Mr. Chávez. “If we can overcome the fear, I believe that we can win this election by a million votes.”

via Fears Persist Among Venezuelan Voters Ahead of Election – NYTimes.com.


16 thoughts on “Fears Persist Among Venezuelan Voters Ahead of Election – NYTimes.com”

  1. This article I find fascinating because of implications of this election for Venezuelans and the world. Winning the election is only step one for Mr. Capriles, step two would come in seeing if President Chavez would leave office peaceably. Something I find harder to conceive than him losing the election, giving his country and government have repeatedly been ranked near the bottom on the list of most corrupt governments (http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/interactive/). Should Mr. Capriles win and Chavez leave with out a fight the next challenge would be to see if Mr. Capriles is actually what he purposes to be. This too could be seen as unlikely as Latin American has historically had an issue with corrupt leaders being dethroned only to be replaced by someone equally as corrupt and power hungry. As for the world should Mr Capriles win and make good on promises a more stable Venezuela, one of the largest oil producers in the world, is a win win for us all, leading to Americans and Europeans alike seeing a break at the pump.

  2. I feel bad for the Venezuelan people that Chavez won re-election. I thought that Capriles would pull it out, but he ended up losing by 9 points, 54-45%. It was totally unfair because Chavez used the state-controlled media to just advertise and advertise. It would be like President Obama just controlling CNN and Fox News all day with his ads and hardly giving Romney a chance. Chavez does not deserve another term. Venezuela has South America’s highest murder rate, economic inflation has exploded, and the political system is corrupted. I hope that the opposition can gain enough support in 2018. More on Chavez’ win: http://world.time.com/2012/10/08/hugo-chavez-wins-big-gives-rivals-six-more-years-to-climb-out-of-their-hole/

  3. This was a landmark election in many ways. The voter turnout was the highest it’s been at 80%. And the opposition grew steadily stronger making up 45% of the electorate, the largest contest ever to Chavez’s power. Although Chavez won the election, he has an uphill battle ahead of him for the next six years. The election showed the strength of the opposition, which now leaves the country divided. A NYTimes article quotes a local schoolteacher who voted for Mr. Capriles. She said, “The opposition has more power, it feels more support. The difference is that we’re not going to stay with our arms crossed.” Chavez may have won the election, but he is ruling a very different country than he planned.

  4. The election was as expected for an illiberal democracy like Venezuela. Hugo Chavez used the full apparatus of the state to ensure his own reelection and the continuity of his efforts to consolidate power. Adding to this is reports that Hugo Chavez has cancer. Chavez has released no details about his cancer (even going to Cuba for treatment to avoid releasing any information), and speculations is that it is of the terminal sort. Should Chavez die of cancer in the near future, there is no telling what could happen to Venezuela, although the Economist reports that when power vacuums occur, the army has often been quick to step in (http://www.economist.com/node/21548279).

  5. This adds to another sad example of how corrupted government incorporate economic factors to maintain power. PRI bought votes from low-income mexicans, and Singapore government cut electricity source of Singapore counties that voted against the incumbent candidate. Would they eventually come to a point that they can no longer stand the government and cast a vote against the incumbent because situations are so bad that retailiation doesn’t matter anymore to their lives?

  6. Certainly this election showed that the Venzuelan people are much more fed up with Hugo Chavez than they were in the last presidential election of 2006, yet still he won the majority of votes. This election was a sad display of unjust control and manipulation of the media and state power by Chavez. Chavez did the same thing done in most any illiberal democracy: he made the election unfair by using fear, coercion, media, and state power. He also spent record oil revenues on social programs for the lower class to gain their support. And he set up an electronic voting system to strike fear into the hearts of voters that their ballots would be read by the government and used to punish those who didn’t vote for Chavez.


  7. I find it incredibly alarming that citizens are concerned about the confidentiality of how they vote and that so many of them are fearful of sharing their opinions. I feel like those are big red flags that this country needs some serious overhaul. Sadly, those changes will most likely not occur under Chavez since he has been re-elected. As mentioned by Terrence, in some ways I hope that Chavez won’t be around much longer due to his health; however, I am also concerned about what will happen to the country and its leadership if he unexpectedly dies. I suppose only time will tell.


  8. Chavez may have favored some part of the population this past 14 years by giving them cheap food, education and housing, but at the same time prejudiced against a big part of the population that creates jobs and stability. He was not prepared to be a president, didn’t have the education or experience, he let his ego and narcissism get in the way of what Venezuela needed. The last elections were a failure because the opposition at the last minute boycotted the process by not participating for fraud suspicion, and that is the truth why he had 70% of the votes.He manipulated Congress into changing the Constitution and majority of laws in his favor. Expropriations, hijacking the national currency, alarming crime rate, judicial impunity, public education and health services in decline.
    I hope Venezuelans use their vote power wisely to choose someone who will do better use of their resources.

  9. Im really glad to see the progress that has been in Venezuela with the opposition finally gaining power. The Chavez regime, though democratic, has been very oppresive. As the article mentioned, it will be very difficult for the opposition to take over because of the stranglehold that Chavez has on all government institutions. The fear that he is able to instill in the people is dictatorial in nature. A CNN article talked about some of the uncertainties of the near future for the country and for Chavez himself, who has had some health problems in recent years. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/08/world/americas/venezuela-elections/index.html I think that as Chavez marches towards his vision of a modern socialist society, we will see the economic output of the country begin to decline.

  10. With Chavez in power for another 6 years (or until he is incapacitated), it will be interesting to see if the country is willing to follow him. Businessweek suggests that Chavez’s new term will be his push to make an irreversible Communist state. I think that there are different ways to go about creating that political theater, but this election could be an example of how fear will be the driving force behind the Chavez government.
    In the meantime, many things could happen and disrupt political predictions. Will Chavez be able to physically serve the duration of his term? Will the Venezuelan people be pushed to political discontent and force an uprising? Or will external forces shift the power balance within the country?
    Only time will tell, and it’ll be fascinating to follow.

  11. Chavez’s narrow win seemed almost mocked by his own country as they bet against his loss, and his death. Investing in Venezuela rose after the polls indicating that Chavez could have been beat, and deflated with Chavez’s slim victory. In some ways, his narrow margin of win is a blessing, as there is not telling what kind of coup or protest Chavez could have tried to create to win back his country, this time possibly as a dictator. In some ways this could be a good end to his regime, dying out before he can cause serious trouble. Many companies are willing to suck it up for the next year or two, assuming that Chavez dies before he can fully put his communistic regime in power. Waiting, while distasteful, might be the only option for the Venezuelan people.


  12. I agree with many of the points made above. One of the arguments talk about the “magic formula” that Chavez uses to remain in power, which is providing consumer goods, housing, and other benefits for his supporters to guarantee their political loyalty. Such money come from public money and also the PDVSA, the petroleum company, that is declining the productions and investment, however, still has money to sustain Chavez’s social programs. Since being stricken with cancer in June 2011, Chávez,has slowed down, which reflected in the latest campaign. But his charisma and seductive rhetoric haven’t disappeared. And his control over the media and key government institutions is intact. (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/08/venezuelas_next_inning)

  13. There are different perspectives that needs to be considered. One of them is that it could be corruption the second one people feared of Chavez, and third the citizens like the way Chavez governs. What I have found while getting to know a little bit more of the country is that despite many of the problems with Chavez government, he has done really good things for venezuela and that is probably one of the reasons that also lead Chavez to win. Currently Chavez faces some immediate problems that he would need to focus on, the first one is the expanding public debt, second the Latin America’s highest inflation rates, and third weakening currency. Many experts believe that Chavez does not have any other option that to devaluate the currency driving inflation and increasing the price of imported consumer goods which will not be so accessible for lower classes. If this is the case there are higher changes that Chavez might face riots, but for now it would interesting to see what it is going to happen.


  14. It is interesting to think of the amount of gratitude that one feels after reading that article. Gratitude for the country that we live in. I am aware that worse plots are occurring nationally, however, to not be able to vote freely is a sad situation. When our freedom to have an opinion has been taken away, we are left with not a lot. It make me more self aware on my personal responsibly to have an educated opinion on America’s current politics. I had the luck of being born in a country where I can choose.
    It amazes me at the amount of Americans that choose not to vote. We have to opportunity to have our voice heard and have it count. Yet many still choose not to choose.
    Here is an article which speaks on the subject and why Americans are choosing not to vote.

  15. The situation in Venezuela shows one of the reasons why deep government involvement can render other aspects of democracy obsolete. Although an election is usually a good sign of a democratic process being implemented, it is clear that not all votes are fair votes. The article mentions both those employed by the government and those dependent on welfare. Both of these groups could face harsh consequences for voting against Chavez. While it is difficult to prove that the election was rigged, evidence shows that the voting lists have been made public before. If government had not become so pervasive, voting could be done confidentially.

    This article mentions that Chavez “has nationalized more than 1,000 companies or their assets since taking office in 1999.” (article previously mentioned by Sarah Brown)


    It is interesting to juxtapose the situation in Venezuela with the revolutions that have taken place as part of the Arab Spring. While I am all for fair government that doesn’t exploit the people, it seems to me that the majority of Venezuelans support Chavez, or can at least tolerate him. If that were not the case, I feel we would be witnessing a reaction far more drastic than a couple of student protests. True, many fear losing their jobs. But it seems they are content with waiting, as one of the above articles mentions.

  16. Now that Chavez won by a “surprising” 10-point margin, I think we can safely say that Venezuelans’ fears were well-justified. Chavez still had complete control over the core federal government, and he wasn’t going to let his power go without interjecting some flavor into the election and its inner workings. I’m astonished at how calm Venezuelans seem to be reacting to the result. There was a reported 80% turnout, but how much of the results are 100% trustworthy? Capriles also seems to be conciliatory http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/08/us-venezuela-election-idUSBRE89601Z20121008). It will be interesting to see if Chavez ever goes down because of an election or because of illness. It may require another long term of socialization to cement his policies, which will have to put up results of their own or be abandoned by public opinion. It feels like Chavez is turning into a Fidel Castro more than he is governing freely.

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