Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brief thoughts on Venezuela's election

Perhaps the best thing about the Venezuelan legislative election today is that it will soon be over.  The vast majority of commentary is useless--so, for example, the Miami Herald discusses how Twitter is huge in Venezuela, yet admits it has no noticeable effect on elections.  And that one isn't even terribly politicized.  For the ultimate in hyperactive updating, just follow Hugo Chávez's Twitter account at @chavezcandanga

Once you strip away the hyperbole, Venezuelans are voting.  Unlike five years ago, the opposition is calling on everyone to vote, and it is expected to be free and fair.  Polls have shown a large number of undecideds, and today they will make up their minds and be counted.  For these reasons, you may call Venezuela lots of things--and political scientists are always eager to create new subtypes--but not a dictatorship.

7 comments:

boz 8:53 AM  

Not a totalitarian dictatorship, but I don't think "free and fair" is a great description either. I think the government's enormous abuse of state resources during the campaign, in particular, would be called out as against a "free and fair" process as usually defined if the government allowed OAS election monitors into the country for the entire campaign period.

As I argued with Honduras's presidential election last year, there are definitely areas between dictatorship sham elections (like those in Cuba) and "free and fair" elections. The international community should figure out how to describe those middle grounds rather than treating it as a binary issue.

Vicente Duque 10:01 AM  

The previous commentary by "boz" is excellent and I adhere to it.

Hugo Chavez has invented a new form of oppression and dictatorship with the face of a democracy.

It is clear that there is a strong "Legal" persecution of the Free Press and Free Voices by the Government. Persecution under the guise of "legality".

I would love to see the Venezuelan People take into consideration the Colombian strike against "Mono Jojoy" and the killing of this "Osama Bin Laden of Colombia".

This is the second death of "Che Guevara".

Unfortunately, most Venezuelans won't see the failure of the International Politics of Chavez, the ridiculousness of supporting, encouraging and abetting the FARC Terrorists, Kidnappers, Murderers and sowers of Land Mines that kill peasant children.

Chavez still gives "sanctuary" to some of the main leaders of this Terrorist group.

It is very amazing to see that Poor Colombia is in the path of economic progress and development while Rich Venezuela is following the way to Hell, Poverty and Ruin.

How many "Marshall Plans" has Chavez squandered ??

Vicente Duque

ConsDemo 10:46 AM  

About the only thing that makes Venezuela "democratic" is that, assuming the vote count not tampered with, the winners can say they have won the most votes. In every other sense Venezuela under Chavez is far from democratic. Whatever the flaws of the last election in Honduras, it was more democratic than those being held in Venezuela today. No election can truly be said to be democratic if it includes the following

1) The majority of the airwaves are state-owned and entirely biased in favor of the party in power.

2) Judiciary is entirely appointed by the party in power

3) The party in power uses state resources on its behalf

4) The President says he can not foresee a peaceful transfer of power.

5) The party in power releases all the names of those who signed a petition calling for the recall of the incumbent President and those people are systematically purged from public sector employment.

6) The government shuts down or threatens to shut down media outlets that don't tow its line.

There are others I could list, but these are sufficient to suggest Venezuela is well short of a functioning democracy.

Yes, Venezuela's election is "democratic" relative to that of Cuba, but that isn't saying much.

Anonymous,  9:44 PM  

There's nothing free and fair about Venezuela's elections. Chavez has abused the power of the state and prosecuted those that oppose him.

Greg Weeks 7:05 AM  

Don't confuse Chávez with elections. I think the opposition is succeeding more in part because they stopped making that mistake.

leftside 3:56 PM  

1) The majority of the airwaves are state-owned and entirely biased in favor of the party in power.

The majority of newspapers are owned by the opposition and entirely biased in favor of the opposition. If you and Boz really want to call an election not "free and fair" because perhaps the majority of non-cable TV advertising went one way, all I have to say is WOW! You obviously don't think very much of the Venezuelan people. There was free and fair advertising on both sides all across the country. You'd have to be blind to think this was a situation where the opposition could not get a fair hearing.

2) Judiciary is entirely appointed by the party in power

Umm, in most countries of the world, the Judiciary is appointed by the party in power. It just so happens Chavez has been in power for 12 years.

3) The party in power uses state resources on its behalf

What Government doesn't in some way or another?

4) The President says he can not foresee a peaceful transfer of power.

You'll have to show us this quotation.

5) The party in power releases all the names of those who signed a petition calling for the recall of the incumbent President and those people are systematically purged from public sector employment.

One person released this list and it was condemned by the President and party in power. Anyone who used the list to punish someone was told they would be sanctioned. The Courts are open to anyone who feels they were wrongly dismissed. Now, folks who decided to go along with an illegal owner lockout at PDVSA and other important places were certainly terminated. Just as you or I would be if we cooperated in illegally shutting down the oil system in this country.

6) The government shuts down or threatens to shut down media outlets that don't tow its line.

The only media "shut down" (RCTV) still operates on cable and satellite. But playing a major role in the coup - by knowingly broadcasting false information - would be grounds for being charged with State treason in most countries.

ConsDemo 9:01 PM  

The majority of newspapers are owned by the opposition and entirely biased in favor of the opposition.
You are welcome to cite the data that suggests most circulation is for opposition papers. When I’ve seen Venezuelan newsstands I found papers that are arms of the government and papers that are independent. You say “in favor the opposition,” I’d say they are critical of the government which was the media is SUPPOSED to be. Do you really think there should be an arm of the media run by the government?

More importantly, whatever the distribution of the print media, the electronic media is overwhelming state dominated and as one analyst pointed out, this matters since far more people watch TV than read newspapers.

There was free and fair advertising on both sides all across the country. You'd have to be blind to think this was a situation where the opposition could not get a fair hearing.

You must be blind if you consider the overwhelming officialista domination of the electronic media to be “fair.”

Umm, in most countries of the world, the Judiciary is appointed by the party in power. It just so happens Chavez has been in power for 12 years.

Nice try but he basically forced out all the judges who wouldn’t rubber stamp his decisions and resorted to “packing the court” by expanding its size, even FDR couldn't get away with that. I notice you don’t disagree with the assertion the judiciary is not independent.

3) The party in power uses state resources on its behalf
What Government doesn't in some way or another?


In the US, incumbents can not use the US treasury to employ thousands of campaign workers and again, they don’t have taxpayer financed networks giving them fawning coverage 24/7.

4) The President says he can not foresee a peaceful transfer of power.
You'll have to show us this quotation.


He makes these statements all the time, here is one

http://www.psicofxp.com/forums/politica-economia-sociologia.146/864565-chavez-amenaza-sacar-tanques-oposicion-gana.html

You may not want to admit it, but your buddy Hugito a thug. He is belief in democracy is strong as long he and his ilk win.


One person released this list and it was condemned by the President and party in power.

Please cite this supposed condemnation and please list who went to jail for its release?

6) The government shuts down or threatens to shut down media outlets that don't tow its line.

The only media "shut down" (RCTV) still operates on cable and satellite.

You should update your information. The cable version was shut down completely for failing to broadcast one of Hugito’s speeches, something else only a quasi-dictator would obtain. RCTV’s original sin was failing to broadcast the toppling of the coup in 2002. That’s a laughable justification for forcing a station off the air and giving the air space to one’s supporters. Globovision is threatened for flimsy reasons as well and now Chavez is trying to nationalize the station. Don’t try to pretend Hugito respects freedom of the press, because he doesn’t.

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