Archives: September 29, 2011.
The Venezuela Initiative is sponsoring a series of roundtables to discuss Venezuela's 2012 electoral prospects. The series initiated yesterday with Jose Antonio Gil Yepes, head of Datanalisis. Looking into the findings of the latests opinion research data, the participating Fellows of the Venezuela Initiative came to the following conclusions averaging all numbers from a selection of polls, including those from Datanalisis:
- Hugo Chavez popularity (52%+) is significantly higher than his government approval (35%). Disagreement to his reelection after 2012 remains at 58%.
- Opposition Coalition (MUD) adds better approval numbers than PSUV (45%-29%, respectively)
- Capriles leads the opposition primaries trailed by Gov. Pablo Perez and Leopoldo Lopez.
- There is an statistical tie between Gov. Capriles (MUD) and Pres. Chavez, if the elections were held next Sunday.
- 40% of Venezuelans are undecided, but the trends favor a moderate opposition candidate against a radicalized Chavez.
- The configuring coaltions among the parties within MUD.
- The impact of the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights Decision in regards to Leopoldo Lopez qualification to run for President.
- The Governor of the state of Lara Henri Falcon -a dissident from Hugo Chavez- and his party PPT (which also includes de Governor of the state of Amazonas). Falcon is monitoring the race between Perez and Capriles, but from a closer distance to Capriles since the PPT and PJ formed a coalition in Congress within the MUD political fraction. On the other hand, some analysts speculate that Falcon and other Chavez dissidents might be somehow uncomfortable in a coalition with Perez if the same includes AD.
- Henrique Salas, Governor of Carabobo and his political Party Proyecto Venezuela. Salas has said the winning candidate is “La Unidad”, while insiders to the process consider he could lean towards Pablo Perez.
- Other presidential hopefuls withdrawing from the primaries. The primaries are likely to become a polarized race between Capriles and Perez. There are a number of very qualified presidential hopefuls in the ballot, mostly people with some regional o focal base of support such as the Governor of Tachira Cesar Perez Vivas, Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, and Maria Corina Machado. Analysts believe some -or all of these candidates- may decide to withdraw and support one of the front runners, in a move to preserve political capital or to seek positioning to the forthcoming regional and local elections.
In the government front Datanálisis, reported that popular support for President Hugo Chávez was at 58.9% in September, up 10 percentage points since July’s 48.6%, however, 58% of respondents were against the idea of his re-election in 2012. The logical reading of this trend is that Venezuelan voters are sympathetic towards President Chávez’s battle with cancer, but that does not translate in voting intentions. Voting intentions for Chávez are at 40%, up from 31% in July, underlining the fact that 2012 will be a fierce battle for floating, undecided voters, numbering some 2m of the 18m electorate.
According to Luis Vicente León, a director of Datanálisis, the government had managed to turn the president’s illness into a positive. This is largely thanks to President Chávez’s regular public statements, his characteristic use of fighting language and his relentlessly upbeat self-prognosis. Added to this, León noted, an increase in the local money supply in recent months (thanks to soaring oil export prices), which has put more cash in people’s pockets and boosted consumption. The national statistics institute (INE) yesterday hailed the fact that the percentage of households living in poverty was 27.4% in the first half of 2011, compared to 49% in the first half of 1998, immediately before Chávez was elected president for the first time. Extreme poverty dropped to 7.3% from 21% over the same period. Yet the latest figure was actually a slight increase on 2010, when first half household poverty was 26.8%.
The polling data fromDatanálisis underlines the fact that the president’s personal bond with his base of support is so intense that no-one in his party could conceivably win the 2012 election for the ruling Partido Unido Socialista de Venezuela (PSUV). Thus, Chavez health is a critical issue for the ruling party.
- Gathering intelligence from the Venezuela diaspora to contribute with a white public policy paper to the potential government coalition emerging from the 2012 elections, focusing on security, employment polices and international relations.
- Supporting the up and coming student leadership in an initiative to prepare a white paper with a national policy for the youth.
- Launching a Political Reconciliation Forum for the 2013 scenario.
Leopoldo Martinez Nucete – @Lecumberry
Executive Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas.