category

Chavez learns, be careful what you ask for

[On Saturday, Chavez] urged Venezuelans to see vote as a referendum on him.”It’s black and white — a vote against the reform is a vote against Chavez,” he said in a state television interview.

Reading leftie listservs and blogs today shows some sense of unreality among Chavistas, some of whom are determined to make this into a victory… somehow. Or that will be a victory once Chavez regroups, yes, that’s it, this defeat was a victory because it means he will regroup and then win.

Well, no. Chavez won re-election last December by 20%. He lost Sunday’s election by 1.5%. Thus, his support has dropped drastically, no matter what kind of happy face his supporters might wish to put on it.

His own loose cannon behavior in the final days before the referendum may have done him in. This would include repeatedly interrupting a speech by the Spanish foreign minister, saying advisers to the Columbian president want war, and that the US better not question the vote if he won else he’d cut off oil supplies – these might not have been well-received by moderates. Comments like these are aimed at his left flank – but they already supported him. However, the voter in the middle might well have thought, if he’s getting like this now, what will be be like in 20 years if he keeps getting re-elected? So they voted no.

  • Well, no. Chavez won re-election last December by 20%. He lost Sunday’s election by 1.5%. Thus, his support has dropped drastically, no matter what kind of happy face his supporters might wish to put on it.

    Your conclusion is invalid. Regardless of what Chavez said, a vote for the referendum was a vote for the referendum, not a vote for Chavez. These were two very different votes – one a Presidential election, the other a vote on a very complex series of constitutional changes. It is perfectly possible for a Venezuelan to very much support the direction that Venezuela is heading in, and to support Chavez as the leader of that process (and indeed, that poll I posted here the other day suggested as much), without agreeing with (or even understanding) the complex set of changes that were proposed. And it is quite understandable that such a person, while not willing to vote “no” (knowing that that would be seen as a vote against Chavez and a boost to the opposition), still wouldn’t be willing to vote “yes.” This is consistent with the fact that the “no” vote, which was predominantly an “anti-Chavez” (as well as an anti-referendum) vote, was almost precisely equal to the anti-Chavez vote in the last Presidential election.

  • So even though Chavez said the vote was about him, it wasn’t?

    Something like 2.8 million who previously voted for Chavez stayed home and didn’t vote this time. This indicates a huge drop in support and probably a demoralized base.

  • DJ

    Or just plain lack of interest. Here in the U.S. it takes a lot of excitement (and/or a huge issue) for a majority to get out and vote.

  • Joe Hartley

    Chavez has been in power since 1999. He has been running the country without checks and balanced for the last 18 months. Result? Inflation is no longer at 16%; it’s at 24%. Same old, same old.

    Excellent op-ed piece in the LA TImes on Sunday from a former Latin American reporter opining (accurately, in my opinion) that Chavez is more mouth than menace. Just another small man trying to make big. Not that the opposition forces will be able to do squat, given their own disorganization and corruption. Surely the Venezuelan people deserve better than they’ve gotten for the past 30 years.

  • DJ

    “Surely the Venezuelan people deserve better than they’ve gotten for the past 30 years.”

    There’s a lot of that going around– including much closer to home.