Election Guide: Venezuela's 2012 Vote
Election Guide: Venezuela's 2012 Vote
On October 7, over 18 million Venezuelans will be eligible to vote in a critical presidential election that could see a fourth term for President Hugo Chávez or a new administration under opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Chávez, of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), has been in power since 1999. He was reelected twice after a referendum in 2009 abolished term limits. In the hopes of unseating the current president, the country’s opposition parties united to create the Coalition for Democratic Unity (MUD).
For the first time in Venezuelan history, the opposition held a universal primary in February 2012, which Capriles won. Polls vary widely, and Chávez has led by a comfortable margin in many cases. For example, a Grupo de Investigación Social Siglo XXI poll released August 8 gave Chávez a 27-point lead. However, pollster Consultores 21 put Capriles ahead by 2 points in late August.
Get election coverage, links, polls, social media information, and more from AS/COA Online.
Rachel Glickhouse and Andreina Seijas contributed to this guide.
(Image: AP Photo)
Hugo Chávez is president of Venezuela, and represents the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). A former military officer, he was first elected president in 1998 and took office the following year. Chávez survived a failed coup attempt in 2002, and a recall referendum voted down in 2004 allowed him to stay in office. In 2009, Venezuelans voted in favor of another referendum to abolish term limits, allowing Chávez to remain for three administrations.
Read Chávez’s government plan for 2013-2019.
Henrique Capriles is running for the opposition coalition, known as the Coalition for Democratic Unity (MUD). He ran for the opposition primary for the Justice First party. Capriles served as mayor of Caracas’ Baruta municipality from 2000 to 2008. He was elected governor of Miranda state in 2008, and stepped down in June 2012 in order to run for president.
The other minority candidates include María Bolívar of Partido Democrático Unidos por la Paz; Orlando Chirinos of Partido Socialismo y Libertad; Reina Sequera of Poder Laboral; Luis Reyes Castillo of Organización Renovadora Autentica; and Yoel Acosta Chirinos of Vanguardia Bicentenaria Republicana.
In Venezuela, political polls vary widely in terms of both reliability and results. Some believe a number of pollsters receive government funding and, therefore, provide untrustworthy results.
Many polls give Chávez a comfortable lead. In early August, Datanalisis placed Chávez ahead with 46.8 percent of the vote and Capriles with 34.3 percent. Meanwhile, a Hinterlaces poll last month put Chávez ahead with 48 percent, compared to Capriles’ 30 percent of the vote.
However, Consultores 21 put Capriles ahead by 2 points in a late August poll. Varianzas also gave the candidates a close margin in August, estimating that Chávez leads with 49.3 percent compared to 47.2 percent for Capriles.
- Elecciones Venezuela offers a rundown of the most recent polls, showing six results from different firms.
- El Universal’s election portal includes some of the recent opinion polls.
- Ultimas Noticias lists the results of various polling firms with dates ranging from September 2011 to August 2012.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) provides information about the electoral process and requirements.
The Elecciones Venezuela website gives election information, including a calendar, an overview of candidates and political parties, and polls.
Monitoreo Ciudadano, a media watchdog group, analyzes how Chávez uses the media to campaign. The group also created the Cadenómetro to measure the number of hours Chávez advertises on Venezuelan TV and radio stations.