HAVANA TIMES — If I had to summarize in three sentences the process experienced by Venezuelans in recent months (of which this victory for Chavez on Sunday was just the concluding event) these would be: 1) it has been an exemplary civic process, 2) the system proved to be technically reliable and 3) it was a process fraught with asymmetries and irregularities.
Data, as well as the carrying out of the process, permit me to advance a few conclusions about what is going to occur from here.
This process set a record in the level of participation (over 80 percent), with motivated pro-government and opposition voters standing in long lines starting early in the morning at their polling stations.
The elections were characterized by an almost total absence of violence. It was guarded by the “Plan Republica” (military) to guarantee the peace, while observers monitored the vast majority of the polling stations, and repeated calls were made for supporters to act responsibly during both the election and after the results.
On the whole, this was an exemplary process in which the winner — without ideological distinction — was a Venezuela that accepted to democratically resolve its political disputes.
The technological and logistical platform of the electoral system worked at a fast pace and almost without technical failure. In three hours, people learned of the results of voting (90 percent) that was so advanced that this permitted the indication of irreversible trends.
In addition, once again, the parties agreed to recognize the results as well as the authority and performance of the National Electoral Council.
Still, it will be important to explain how it was possible for almost exact vote tallies and the results obtained by the frontrunners to be leaked over the social networks just minutes before issuing the first official bulletin.1
In terms of the process seen as a whole, it is worth repeating those elements whose influence was undoubtedly important for the results of this election. These would include the widespread taking advantage of state resources by the official candidate, the abuse of obligatory networks of public and private media, and an almost no regulation exerted by CNE against these crimes.
These are elements that remind us that an election is an integral process (as is democracy itself) whose steps and results go beyond the act of voting on election day, although these latter provides the final resolution.
Analysts call on us to maintain a common standard in dealing with problematic situations, whatever the scenario, and regardless of our preferences or our ideological considerations. It’s not possible to defend the quality of democracy in one place and then turn a blind eye in another when this process violates key elements.2
It was healthy for both candidates in their speeches to the nation to have recognized the attitude of their opponent and to make appeals to work together for the good of the Venezuelan people.
The opposition (supported by the 44 percent of those who cast their vote, surpassing the results of the previous presidential election) can attest to the sincere will for dialogue with the winner, calling for the government to sit down at the table to deal with urgent national issues.
And it would do well to interpret the support for Chavez not only as a mere effect of political patronage but as an expression of the weight that continues to be felt by the lacerating social debt (and its solution) by the poor population of Venezuela.
The elected president, if he has the good sense not to interpret this as a blank check of support, after having received only a little more than half of the votes. He should moderate his speech and stop labeling as “destabilizing agents of the Empire” those who competed in a fair and democratic fight, within the rules of the state of law, but simply have a different view of the country.
Tomorrow they will open scenarios that will continue, certainly marked by complexity and confrontation. As stated in his interview on CNN, Luis Vicente Leon, a sharp analyst and the director of the most successful Venezuelan polling agency [Datanalisis]), the opposition has the ability to turn today’s morning into effective action in the regional elections ahead, relying on the best candidate that Chavez has faced and an alliance forged during the process.
Meanwhile, the government would do well to analyze the actual status of several issues, such as rejuvenation of its leadership, institutional respect and strengthening, and the promised review of its work and social policy. In this way it would honor the trust placed in it by the ballots of its constituents.
1 – For for just one example (in Spanish) see: tweets https://twitter.com/puzkas.
2 – See our analysis and http://havanatimes.org/?p=79652 (in English), and http://www.envio.org.ni/articulo/4568 (in Spanish).