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Comparative analysis of Chile - Venezuela electoral systems

By Aleksander Boyd

16.01.06 | As expected Michelle Bachelet sailed to a convincing victory yesterday at the ballots. The new president elect of Chile is a woman, no small feat in a continent where machismo still runs deeply in male dominated business and political arenas. I will refrain from opining on the implications of her election; as recently in Bolivia, the people decided and the sovereign decision of the majority ought to be respected. What amazes me is that in both Chile and Bolivia cases, the electoral authorities conducted an extraordinarily transparent process, that can only be envied by us Venezuelans. In spite of the orthodox voting method, this is what a Venezuelan living in Chile had to say:

Pundits and politicians are hard at work breaking down the triumph of Michelle Bachelet in today's Presidential elections. Instead of wondering why results are still missing in spite of very expensive electoral machinery, Chileans had official results with 99% of the votes counted by 9 pm local time. Instead of claims of fraud, they are breaking down the vote by gender line -in Chile, men and women vote separately, so it's possible to break down voting patterns- and by counties. All the information is already on the government's website. All this thanks to a transparent system based on a piece of paper, a pencil, a glass urn and an impeccable voter registry - a system that, in spite of being handled by the Interior Ministry, is impartial and trustworthy.

Bolivia's Corte Nacional Electoral (CNE) also posted preliminary results -indicative of who had won- less than 6 hours after the polling centres were closed.

Now compare that to the multibillion dollar spanking new electronic voting system that Fidelito had imposed on Venezuela's electoral processes. Remember the plebiscite of December 4 2005? Well Jorge-Matic, aka Jorge Rodriguez head of Venezuela's electoral council, is yet to announce -after 42 days- the final results of the process, in which, by the way, less than 15% of the country's electors bother to vote. Will we ever see normality and transparency in our electoral affairs? Not until Chavez and Jorge-Matic are removed from their posts.

In the meanwhile, and while our country accelerates towards africanisation, Chavez, ever the populist, is trying to buy a lease of life by increasing base salaries by up to 80%. Perhaps he has not realised that Venezuelans are past the point of disgust, and in light of the recent electoral and infrastructure fiascos will surely castigate him one way or another.



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