Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Venezuelan elections: news we can't use

Preoccupied by other things, I haven't bothered to post about the Venezuelan elections. It had occurred to me, though, that despite all the rhetoric leading up to the elections, the U.S. media seemed bored. State and local elections without violence aren't very exciting, and Hugo Chávez didn't say anything inflammatory. Ultimately, these elections don't change the political map of Venezuela much.

So this morning's piece from McClatchy caught my eye for its impressively hyperbolic perspective. These elections, we learn, are in fact the sign of "another titanic battle" as Chávez seeks a new referendum to get another presidential term. The evidence? "Analysts said Monday." It seems he quoted two analysts, one of them pollster and often Chávez critic Luis Vicente León.

Much of the rest of the article quotes opposition Venezuelan politicians, who argue that Chávez will be weakened politically because he will have to negotiate more and the drop in oil prices will slow his projects, neither of which offer support for the article's hypothesis. The only evidence presented is that Chávez candidates won more votes than Chávez did in the failed referendum, but that is apples and oranges from an electoral perspective. A vote for mayor doesn't translate into a vote for a national referendum on Chávez.

Does Chávez want another term? Yes. Will he push for a new referendum next year? Maybe. This article, however, doesn't help us understand the likelihood.


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