|This bar chart captures the increase in popularity of Chavez from 1998 to 2012. Although the popularity of the opposition also increased in 2012 to new highs of 6.5 million.|
Yes Chavez received 12% more votes than Capriles, and the election turnout of 81% speaks of a highly interested and engaged electorate. However, the fact that 6.5 million of Venezuelans voted for Capriles (compared to 8.2 million for Chavez) and the stark contract in their platforms are evidence of a polarized, divided country.
The claim that the Venezuelan electoral process is excellent as illustrated by the high turnout, and relatively peace and order of the election, overlooks a severe deficiency in the election process: electoral finances are only transparent to the state. This loophole creates the conditions for pro-government parties to pursue corrupt financial practices and leave anti-government parties subject to unjust assessments of their finances including targeting their contributors.
In addition, the media in Venezuela is closely regulated for political content during elections. There are daily time limits on mass media, and therefore, the private media cannot bombard the electorate as stated in the article below.
The reality of the Venezuelan election is that there is strong evidence that the opposition was supported by illegal foreign funds, and Chavez was supported by illegal public funds (which are only transparent to the state). As a result, Venezuelans are likely caught between two political movements that use illegal means. In my opinion, this reality cannot bode well for Venezuelans as a whole. Yet, it may be argued that most elections come down to the lesser of the evils.
FDA Media Advisory on Venezuela
Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director
Excerpt from "Unbeatable Chavez wins re-election over U.S. funded opponent: Venezuela’s progressive revolution will continue to thrive"
.... Chavez won a resounding victory over his right-wing rival, Henrique Capriles Radonski, a representative of the Venezuelan oligarchy. The President won 12% more votes than Capriles, gaining 56% of the total vote against the latter’s 44%. Some 8.2 million Venezuelans voted for Chavez, compared to 6.5 million for Capriles. About 81% of registered voters cast ballots, a record number. Chavez got 551,902 more votes this time than in the last election held in 2006. As Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, the influential U.S. political website, points out, Chavez’s winning margin would be considered a landslide in the U.S., where Obama won by a margin of just 7% more than John McCain in 2008.
Said Cuban President Raul Castro to Chavez, “In the name of the government and people of Cuba, I congratulate you on this historic triumph, which demonstrates the strength of the Bolivarian Revolution and its unquestionable popular support. Your decisive victory assures the continuity of the struggle for the genuine integration of Our America."
Bolivian President Evo Morales called Chávez's victory “monumental” in the fight against imperialism in Latin America. "It is a triumph of the people," he said. "We are in times of the people, not of empires."
For Dr. Maria Paez Victor, a Venezuelan-Canadian sociologist, “Venezuela has shown the world the excellence of its electoral process that unfolded in peace and order, and the keen democratic spirit of its people as more than 80% of voters took part in it.
Considering that 95% of the media in Venezuela are in private hands, that they bombarded TV, radio, and newspapers with anti-Chavez ads, and that the United States had channelled $40 to $50 million to the opposition parties and groups to whom it gave strategic and communicational support, Chavez’s electoral triumph becomes quite amazing. He did not beat an individual or a party, but a powerful foreign conglomerate set against him. He won with 56% of the vote, a 12% advantage over his rival – while in Canada Prime Minister Harper won a majority last year with only 39% of the vote.
“This election will have profound effects in Venezuela, the region, and the world. Chávez is now the socialist leader with the most democratic success in the world. He now has a mandate to further socialize Venezuela to attain more social justice, to continue the efforts for the integration of Latin America, and, most of all, he has shown the world that there is a viable alternative to unbridled capitalism and neoliberal economic orthodoxy.”
Question to Readers:
To offset the influence of foreign monies for opposition parties, do you think Chavez is justified in using public funds to finance his re-election?