In spite of a complicated cancer, Venezuela’s controversial president Hugo Chávez is running for reelection October 7. The opposition celebrated primaries earlier this year, electing Henrique Capriles. He is governor of Miranda, the second most populous state of Venezuela, 40 years old and bachelor.
Since 2004 electronic voting is used in the country, but this year another novelty was introduced: A finger print scanner, connected to the electronic voting machine, and which according to the intentions should guarantee the principle one person – one vote. Last Sunday a test with tens of thousands of electors was held in real polling places all over the country, to test all aspects of the system.
The result was not intended to be published, but it has been leaked from the election authority. Capriles got 56% of the votes cast (which of course did not represent a random selection, since they were self selected, but the same can of course be said about the real election since it is not compulsory to vote). Only 31% voted for Chávez.
The leaked result includes figures per state. Chávez got a plurality of the votes in only four and rather small states, but the difference was at most 5 points in his favor. Capriles “won” with the largest margin among the exiles (65 points), and in his home state of Miranda (43 points).
The North American political analyst Eric Ekvall, who for 30 years has worked as a political consultant in South America based in Venezuela, estimates that Capriles at present enjoys an advantage of 15 points over Chávez. The estimate is based on the fact that the (in his judgment) most credible polls predict a dead heat, together with the “fear factor” which amounts to about 15 points.
The “fear factor” was measured by the opposition pollster in the last presidential race. It reflects the fact that many lie to pollsters by fear of being registered as opponents of the regime. In 2006 the fear factor was measured to 14 points, and now it is being estimated to be between 16 and 20 points. All polls from Venezuela must be adjusted for this factor, since all of them are carried out the same way, interviews at the front door of homes.
According to Ekvall there are also clearly inaccurate polls that give an advantage to Chávez of up to 35 points. These are either carried out by the regime, or by companies that are coerced by one method or the other. The regime is sponsoring these bought pollsters with journeys around the World for selling in the false result to the global media, as part of the propaganda to prepare the international community to accept the fraudulent election result with Chávez as the winner.
According to physicist and democracy activist Guillermo Salas, the strategy for this electoral dictatorship contains four essential steps: (1) create a election system that is amenable to fraud, (2) create confidence in this system, (3) make the public expect that the regime candidate will win, and (4) get a stamp of quality on the fraudulent result. According to Salas the four steps of the strategy have been implemented in the following way in Venezuela: (1) electronic voting, (2) the opposition technicians guarantee that fraud is impossible, (3) the opposition polls show that they are likely to lose (they never mention the fear factor, even though they are aware of it), and (4) either the opposition admits defeat as in 2006, or an independent and credible election observer assures that it was a free and fair election, as when the Carter Center swore by the result in the referendum of 2004.
In 2004 a recall referendum for president Chávez was held. Guillermo Salas is one of the many experts who have analyzed data from that referendum statistically, and concluded that it is beyond any reasonable doubt that there was widespread fraud in the vote tabulation. With a high degree of confidence, the real result was 56% for “yes” (recall Chávez), but through fraud it was changed to 59% “no”.
After 7 peer-reviewed articles in renowned international journals on statistics, and the poll results before the referendum, together with the exit polls during the vote, and the fact that number of people who had signed the recall petition was more than half those who had voted when Chávez was originally elected, the question must be considered settled once and for all: The majority of Venezuelans desired that Chávez be deposed in 2004, and the only reason why he remains in the presidency is widespread election fraud. This means that Venezuela is an “electoral dictatorship.”
Considering this situation it is by no means certain that the regime will hand over power voluntarily after October 7 – especially not considering that high officials openly have declared that they do not intend to ever leave power. The speculations of what might happen include everything from a make-believe coup in order to cancel the elections in the last moment, to the regime declaring itself a winner and the opposition starting a popular uprising. In the last presidential election the opposition candidate acknowledged defeat which caused all plans for street action to be abandoned, but this time there is a growing “resistance movement” that proclaims that they will take to the streets regardless if the candidate acknowledges defeat. How credible the resistance is nobody knows.