Ten Strategic Reasons Why Chavez Won the Venezuelan Elections

Coordinator of the Venezuelan human rights organisation Support Network for Justice and Peace and member of the Presidential Disarmament Commission, Pablo Fernandez, outlines ten defining strategic points that propelled Hugo Chavez to another election victory on Sunday.

According to the latest count, the margin of victory is even bigger, with Hugo Chavez receiving 8,062,056 votes, and (opposition candidate Henrique) Capriles 6,468,450.

The secret to our success was, in my opinion, the following:

1. A project to build a country which has seen results (even taking errors into account) verses empty speeches full of promises. Lesson: Next time the opposition should construct discourse and its candidate should have something to show for it (and Miranda [where Capriles was governor] is not really the best example).

2. Mobilisation capacity: The Chavistas, we knew how to mobilise our people, how to get them to come out and vote until late at night. The opposition went home at 2pm and didn’t vote any more.

3. Chavez supporters didn’t fall into the trap of triumphalism, and instead went around seeking out the vote of those who were undecided. The opposition built up the idea of an unstoppable victory, and from there the strong and excessive disappointment in their ranks now is reflected in depression and verbal violence (as they don’t have anything else).

4. The Chavista movement is strong in the countryside and in the working class or poorer sectors. The opposition went after the vote, as usual, of the A and B [rich and upper middle class] sectors. That is, in the social minority of the country. They didn’t reach the C,D, and E sectors [translator: the author is referring to five economic categories commonly referenced in polling and surveys, where A is richest and E is poorest].

5. The candidate-president waged an admirable campaign, overcoming illness and taking care of his health to the utmost, he toured almost the whole country. The opposition always assumed that Chavez would wage his campaign from a distance, over the television… a serious mistake.

6. The Chavista campaign knew how to prove the faults and regressions in the opposition proposal. The people who have sufficient memory were clear that the “path” of the MUD was accelerated retrocession, something which directed many non-Chavista votes towards Chavez, under the logic of the “least worse”.

7. The emotional hook: the synergy that Chavez achieves with the masses wasn’t seen in the opposition ranks. The Chavistas voted for “love of Chavez, for the president, for the leader”… the opposition in its majority voted “against Chavez, so that Chavez goes, for getting rid of Chavez”… in both cases the reference point was Chavez, not Capriles. And without a doubt, the grassroots empathy for the president is difficult to beat.

8. Chavez’s campaign was within the barrios, in the street, the towns, mobilisation of the bases. The opposition’s campaign was within the media. They had too much confidence in the ability of the media to generate tendencies. The error was not understanding that the people here don’t fall for rumours or for the television, nor for the newspapers or any other corporate media.

9. Projects with a high impact (such as the housing mission, the incorporation of thousands into paid pensions, etc), captured votes from broad sectors who have benefited from such social policies. The real threat of privatising these processes or eliminating them determined the vote of many people.

10. Lastly, and most importantly: the secret to the victory was been the demonstration of a real readiness to attend to the problems of the people… Chavez won in 2012 because he has acted and shown since 1992 [that he genuinely cares about the people], and that’s a historical record that is hard to confront for a novice to politics whose main thing on his resume is a badly administered state government.

Pablo Fernandez Blanco is coordinator of the Venezuelan human rights organisation Support Network for Justice and Peace and advisor to the Presidential Disarmament Commission.

Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com