Caracas, February 15th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — International observers of Venezuela's referendum Sunday, in which nearly 55% of voters approved a constitutional amendment to eliminate the two-term limit on elected offices, praised the security, transparency, and organization of Venezuela's electoral system, calling it an example for the region and for the world.
“The referendum complied with international standards and national legislation, especially with regard to communication and the transparency of the electoral administration,” according to Nicanor Moscoso, the president of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts.
In a press conference Monday, Brazilian delegate Max Altman commented on the secrecy of the vote. “I was very impressed by how the Venezuelan electoral sysem is totally reinforced and how well-secured the voting is,” he said. “I hope this democatic feeling persists in Venezuela, as well as in all our countries in the region.”
Altman further highlighted the enthusiastic participation of Venezuelan voters. “When the Venezuelan people are called on to participate in an historic occasion, they make their presence felt,” he said, noting that more than 70% of registered voters went to the polls Sunday, according to Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE).
Paraguayan delegate Hector Lacognata also commented on the high turnout. “The electoral process is really a big celebratioin here. The people assume that voting is a duty and an obligation, a right to be acted upon,” he said.
“Paraguay is asking that the CNE transfer to us the electronic system [of voting],” Lacognata added. “We have utmost respect for the Venezuelan electoral process, which is an example for Latin America and the rest of the world.”
The CNE set up 11,300 voting centers to serve 16.8 million registered voters, and activated 35,000 electronic voting machines, which were accompanied by cardboard ballot boxes in which voters deposited a paper record of their vote.
“We are observing the vote counting and this is an example for the world. This guarantees transparency and assures Venezuelans that their vote will be counted,” said the president of Nicaragua's National Council of Universities, Francisco Talavera.
“This electoral process was characterized by its transparency, efficacy, security, and organization. The referendum re-affirmed the democratic expression of the Venezuelan people,” said Talavera.
Manolis Glezox, an election observer from Greece, addressed accusations by leaders of the anti-amendment campaign that government institutions were biased in favor of the pro-amendment campaign.
“Those who were not in agreement [with the amendment] had the opportunity to express their opinions in a democratic manner in newspapers as well as the audio visual media,” said Glezox. “The vote discounted the commentaries that suggested that in Venezuela there is a dictatorship.”
After the CNE announced the results Sunday, opposition leaders recognized the legitimacy of the results and conceded defeat.
A non-partisan national electoral observation organization called Ojo Electoral (Election Watch) noted the “tranquility and normality” of the voting on Sunday. Ojo Electoral spokesperson Luis Lander reported that the Venezuelan National Guard, which was deployed to secure voting centers across the country, displayed “correct behavior” throughout the day.
Also, Lander lauded the fact that people from both pro- and anti-amendment political groups audited the voting machines and served as witnesses within each voting center, and that problems with voting machines and other such irregularities “were resolved promptly and appropriately.”
Sunday's national vote on the amendment was proposed by the Venezuelan National Assembly at the behest of President Chavez, who is a vibrant proponent of Latin American integration and what many call 21st Century Socialism, to allow Venezuelans to elect Chavez to a third six-year term after his second term ends in 2012.
Chavez has announced that he will be a pre-candidate for the presidency in 2012, meaning that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), of which Chavez is president, will decide in internal primary elections whether Chavez will become the party's candidate for president.