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Venezuela: Post-Election Reflections

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

Emotions ran high on Sunday night after the official results of the October 7, 2012, presidential elections were released. President Hugo Chávez was re-elected with 55.14% of the vote, while opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, obtained 44.24%, as reported by Venezuela's National Electoral Council [es].

Part of the country celebrated the continuation of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution‘ under Chávez, while the other side lamented another electoral loss.

Chávez supporters reflect

Tamara Pearson in Venezuelan Analysis refers to Sunday's results as “an imperfect victory.” She writes that despite the celebratory mood among Chávez supporters on Sunday night, she felt “a bit down”:

because over six million people supported, by voting for Capriles, selfishness (he had focused his campaign on Venezuela ending its solidarity with other countries) and the destruction and sale of their country.

She goes on to analyze why the gap between the opposition and Chávez is narrowing. From her perspective, “the opposition will come out of these elections emboldened” so “the revolution can't lie down and relax”:

If we don’t beat corruption and bureaucracy in the next period, we could lose this revolution. Now that the presidential elections are over, we have two main questions: How will we deepen the revolution, and will it survive?

Supporters of President Hugo Chavez during the presidential elections on October 7, 2012. Photo by Alejandro Rustom. Copyright Demotix.

Supporters of President Hugo Chavez during the presidential elections on October 7, 2012. Photo by Alejandro Rustom. Copyright Demotix.

Antonio Aponte, from the blog Un Grano de Maíz [es], congratulates fellow Chávez supporters for the victory, but also looks at future challenges for the Bolivarian Revolution. He also analyzes the narrowing distance between government supporters and the opposition:

[...] de un 26% de diferencia en las elecciones presidenciales del 2006 pasamos a un lánguido 10%.  Perdimos casi 20% de nuestra votación, los análisis preliminares indican que los perdimos en los sectores pobres y sin aumentar la votación en los sectores de clase media.

¿Por qué la mengua? La respuesta reside en la esencia del Socialismo, sin comprenderla estamos destinados al fracaso: el Socialismo tiene como esencia al amor, a la relación fraterna, al sentido de pertenencia a la sociedad. El capitalismo tiene como esencia al egoísmo, a las soluciones individuales. Ese es el fundamento de la batalla, el egoísmo enfrentado en feroz lucha contra el amor, y hacia allí deben ir dirigidos nuestros esfuerzos.

[...] from a 26% difference in the presidential election of 2006 we have moved to a weak 10%. We lost almost 20% of our votes. Preliminary analysis indicates that we lost in low-income sectors and didn't gain votes from middle class sectors.

Why the decline? The answer lies in the essence of socialism, without understanding it we are destined to fail: Socialism is the essence of love, of fraternal relationships, of the sense of belonging to society. Capitalism has as its essence selfishness, individual solutions. That is the foundation of the battle, selfishness in a fierce fight against love, and that is where our efforts must be directed.

He concludes that ‘revolutionaries’ must urgently acquire a ‘culture of discussion': “A revolution that doesn't discuss, dies”:

El estudio, la discusión, deben ser las tareas principales de la sociedad. La ignorancia es contrarrevolucionaria. ¡Viva Chávez!

Study, discussion, must be the main tasks of society. Ignorance is counterrevolutionary. ¡Long live Chávez!

Reflections from the opposition

Many opposition bloggers followed Capriles’ campaign closely, with enthusiasm for what seemed to be the right moment for a change in Venezuela. They quickly reacted to the results, sharing their sadness and disappointment, but also looking forward with self-criticism.

Blogger Alex Boyd says he “never expected a different outcome”. He shares a map of the results and adds a note about electoral fraud:

Hugo Chavez trounced the opposition candidate again. Six years on, Chavez still is the choice of the majority of my countrymen. And that's OK, I don't have a problem with that. The good thing about it is that Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo Lopez, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo et al buried the phantom of electoral fraud in Venezuela. By claiming, repeatedly, that the system had been sufficiently audited, and that the opposition had managed to place witnesses in 100% of voting centres nationwide, there is no room for further entertaining the thought of fraud.

Manuel Silva from the blog No solo con la palabra [es] thinks that one of the worst things the opposition has done throughout multiple electoral processes is not being prepared for a defeat. However, Silva argues that the opposition's loss is not a political loss:

Aquí se perdió porque [...] la mayoría de los venezolanos se identifica con esta forma de gobernar. Nosotros estamos dispuestos a aceptar el abuso y el atropello como forma de vida, naturalizamos la inseguridad, nos conformamos con la miseria, aceptamos gustosos vivir como lo hemos hecho en los últimos años: odiándonos.

Here we lost because [...] the majority of Venezuelans identify with this form of government [Chávez]. We are willing to accept abuse and trampling as a way of life, we have made insecurity something natural, we have settled for misery, we have accepted gladly to live as we have done in recent years: hating each other.

Meanwhile, according to blogger Mirelis Morales Tovar from Caracas Ciudad de la Furia [es], the opposition hasn't learned enough:

hay muchos que deben mirar un poco más allá. Venezuela no es Caracas, no es La Lagunita ni mucho menos Twitter. Somos un país divido en partes iguales y debemos aprender a mirar el otro lado.

There are many who need to look a little further. Venezuela is not Caracas, it is not La Lagunita nor Twitter. We are a country divided in equal parts and we must learn to look to the other side.

Alejandro Tarre [es] argues that the opposition must be ready and willing to continue offering an alternative for Venezuelans, considering that “politics, like life, is not stagnant but fluid” and that in December Venezuelans will vote for mayors and governors:

La masa opositora está ahí; el reto es simplemente sacudirla hasta sacarla del estupor en el que se encuentra para luego movilizarla. Se ha dicho mucho que, después de su estupenda campaña, Capriles está en una posición ideal para asumir el liderazgo opositor y blindar la unidad. Pues bien, ahí tiene su primer reto. Ahora más que nunca necesitamos a nuestro rock star animando a la gente y recorriendo el país para apoyar a los candidatos a alcaldes y gobernadores.

The opposition mass is there, the challenge is simply to shake it out its stupor to then mobilize it. Much has been said that, after his great campaign, Capriles is in an ideal position to take lead the opposition and shield the unity Well, here is his first challenge. Now more than ever we need our rock star encouraging people and touring the country to support candidates for mayors and governors.

These are only a few of the thoughts from opposing political sides after the most intense and contested presidential election in years. More reactions have also been shared on Twitter, the citizen media platform of choice for most Venezuelan netizens.

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

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