The consequences of the recall's result in Venezuela, part III
Sunday 29, August 2004 - Part 3: Interpreting the results. One fun
thing after an election is to peruse the electoral map and see the variations,
the patterns, the strange distortions, the local effects, etc... This time I
have been deprived of such a fun game as I am wondering whether it is worth
to examine the results. Are those the real results? But days are going by and
it seems that it will be quite a long time until fraud is proven, if ever. Even
if proven that does not mean that Chavez did not win, etc, etc... Actually some
people are now promoting the "we got screwed, let's move on anyway" strategy
which, if I am not yet ready to share, I do understand why some would consider
it. We cannot spend the rest of our lives bemoaning fraud, as even if we prove
it, reversal is not obvious with what is, victory or not, a gangster administration.
That is why I decided to examine some of the results anyway and see if some
of the patterns are interesting, as no matter what the "exact" results are,
patterns might still be meaningful.
How was the fraud made?
Before I get into describing what I found, I must submit this caveat: the
numbers provided in the official CNE page do not reflect the results of
a fair electoral campaign. They might even reflect a real fraud, at least in
many districts. So far, from what one can gather, we are talking of voting machine
intervention in about a third of the districts. Patterns vary, from tops to
SI votes and excess going to NO votes, from standard fixed averages votes, to
Chavez supporters registered in some manual voting districts to use that as
show case and justify the "modified" results in electronic voting districts.
All of this still in domain of speculation as a definite proof is yet to come
(though some seem quite good already!).
As I have written earlier, I think that there is a real possibility that Chavez
might have won and that any rigging modified the tallies to fatten his lead.
Something went wrong though and some unlikely things did come out of the totals.
For example how come the SI did not win a single state? Not even Margarita?
This most touristic state in Venezuela has been very hard hit by Chavez unwise
economic deals. The crisis affecting the Venezuelan middle class, the increasing
violence scaring away foreign tourists, the currency control exchange dramatically
affecting the tax free business of the island have together dealt a major economical
blow to the island. Depressed Margarita did vote NO? even by a couple of hundred
votes? I mean, they should have cheated to make sure that the opposition carried
at least Margarita!!!!!!!!!
It is because I see such strange results, the permanent refusal to count ballots
(though probably useless now), and not even a hint of self criticism from the
pro-Chavez CNE majority that should apologize at least for the long lines, that
I am still convinced that fraud was committed. But that is OK, time to look
to the "results" anyway.
The result patterns in Venezuela
There is only one noteworthy lesson to take from the results: urban areas with
a significant industrial base have actually gone against Chavez, or let him
barely squeak by! Where Chavez does better is from rural areas and urban areas
that were already depressed before he reached office. This observations, of
course do have their exception (Margarita and Aragua states for example).
How can we explain that?
The rural effect. This is actually easy to explain. With his "misiones"
Chavez got more bang for his bucks in rural areas, with no work for its people
to begin with. In these areas, any handout can have a significant effect on
people, even if temporary. Any Cuban doctor that lives with the natives is big
news. Any "agrarian reform" talk is good, not because the natives might be receiving
land, but because that the one little corner they "invaded" to build their little
shack will not be taken away from them.
The urban counter effect. Once we understand the rural effect it is not
too hard to understand the urban effect. With higher costs of living, and considerably
more personal insecurity, the chavista handouts do not have the same effect
than in a rural area. In addition, the very depressed private sector has caused
an increase in the jobless rate. Workers know that, know that jobs have been
going down ever since Chavez reached office, and many of them also know that
the best social program is a stable job.
When we observe the results of the three main metropolitan areas of Venezuela,
Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia, we see that the
"official" results do give a victory to the SI, or at least a lower than
national average victory for the NO. Let's go and look at 4 tables, keeping
in mind an official 59% for the NO and 41% for the SI.
The Yaracuy results
In the following tables, the purple shade indicates the global result for the
states. The red the result for the metropolitan area of the main city, and in
pink partial sums of metropolitan areas (for example the dormitory cities).
Yaracuy is actually an easy example. Even though in the state the NO won by
60.14%, in the San Felipe metro area the NO barely won! Even Independencia,
with a chavista mayor, went below the state average! On the other hand all of
the rural areas went for the NO, some in very large percentages.
|Yaracuy State ||39.86%||60.14%|
|San Felipe Metropolitan area||49.84%||50.16%|
The Caracas results
Caracas is divided in two states: the ex Federal District (Caracas Libertador)
and Miranda state. Thus a little bit more of a complex table where I differentiate
the Caracas districts of Miranda with a green total. When all the at large districts
are taken in, Caracas is still far below the national average for the NO. Even
including the full Vargas state which is not a real dormitory state.
Here the very surprising result is that in Petare, whose population is supposedly
in the majority in the "ranchos", the SI won! The strict Metropolitan area,
Libertador, Baruta, Chacao, EL Hatillo and Petare, in yellow, include all the
districts that all tourist see first when they arrive in Caracas: the slums
that precariously cling to the hills! How come that if more than half of the
population lives in the slums or areas like the 23 de Enero, still the SI wins?
This is actually a major defeat for chavismo! The Caracas that Chavez has so
lavishly courted turned its back to him. No wonder the opposition rallies were
usually bigger than Chavez ones. We know now why he had to bring so many buses
with people to fatten up his rallies!
|Vargas State (Caracas dormitory)||35.68%||64.32%|
|Caracas Big Metropolitan Area||48.58%||51.42%|
The Zulia results
Although less marked the pattern appears in Zulia too. Maracaibo has been carried
by the SI in spite of a pro Chavez mayor. The explanation is quite simple: Zulia
has been hard hit by the economic recession and the PDVSA crisis has not helped.
Actually the PDVSA take over by chavista handymen might have brought a severe
backlash that will not heal fast. To illustrate this I have separated the two
shores of the Maracaibo lake in what one could very loosely describe a the Maracaibo
Metropolitan area. The East shore has three out of 5 districts with SI victories,
and if the NO prevails it is because Cabimas is the most populated district,
and still the result went below the national result of 41 to 59! This weakness
of Chavez in the East shore and Maracaibo itself can be attributed at the rather
unpopular PDVSA take over and the dismal environmental policies of the Chavez
administration. In fact, before August 15, Zulia and Margarita were the two
states that all thought should go to the SI column.
|Maracaibo, West shore||49.66%||50.34%|
|The PDVSA area, Maracaibo East Shore||49.01%||50.99%|
The Carabobo result
Carabobo is/was the biggest industrial area in Venezuela. The table next shows
again the same pattern described above. Only Aragua state escapes this trend
and this is due to a popular governor and the fact that its industry is more
spread through the state although as depressed as anywhere in the country. Lara
state has only industry in Barquisimeto and this one was already touched before
Chavez came into office. The Lara governor also worked hard at keeping the city
in the NO side. The last industrial area is Bolivar state, but there we are
talking of big industries mostly into the hand of the state, so the economic
impact of the recession was felt differently.
A last note
In the official CNE page the results of the foreign vote are not added yet.
One must remember that the CNE even toyed for a while with the idea of not letting
people overseas vote, but gave in considering the constitutional implications.
Well, the results overseas were an unmitigated disaster for Chavez. If not enough,
of course, to change the result, it is fun to observer that the SI got more
than 90% overall. No wonder the CNE is "forgetting" those results… But
the results are published elsewhere for those who are interesting.
© by Vcrisis.com & the author