Mérida, January 29th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com)– As Venezuelans prepare for a national vote this February 15th on whether to amend the constitution to remove the two-term limit on all elected offices, several polls conducted by firms with different political orientations indicate that a majority of Venezuelans support the proposed amendment.
54% of Venezuelans support the amendment, according to a poll conducted in January by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), a non-government firm that is considered to be sympathetic to the government and is cited consistently by the Venezuelan Ministry of Communications and Information.
Similarly, a survey of 2,500 Venezuelans conducted in mid-January by the Social Investigations Group (GIS) found that 55% of Venezuelans support the amendment, while 40% oppose it.
GIS, which is headed by a former finance minister of the Chávez government, found Venezuelans to favor the amendment in all states except Zulia and Táchira, with tight contests in the states of Mérida, Miranda, and Nueva Esparta.
A GIS poll last month asked Venezuelans if they think that behind the amendment there is a hidden intention to install dictatorship in Venezuela, which is an argument made frequently by opponents of the amendment and the private media. 67.2% of respondents said they do not, while 29.2% said they do.
Both the IVAD and GIS polls found that President Hugo Chávez’s approval rating remains close to 70%, even while only a slight majority supports the constitutional amendment that Chávez has actively promoted.
GIS Director Nelson Merentes explained in an interview on Venezuelan state television that his firm’s survey pool includes a proportional representation of each income grouping in Venezuela, with 80% of those interviewed coming from the lower two of five income categories.
Datanálisis, a polling firm that is considered to be sympathetic to the anti-Chávez opposition and rarely releases poll results that are favorable to the Chávez government, reported to Reuters that 51.4% of Venezuelans support the amendment, while 48.1% do not support the amendment, according to 1,300 interviews that Datanálisis conducted in mid-January.
Datanálisis Director Luis Vicente León said the poll results are indicative of “a country divided in two.”
“Chavez has gained support [for the amendment], but it cannot be concluded that he is the clear favorite,” said León. “The result will depend, in large part, on which side can best mobilize its supporters on the day of the election.”
Private media outlets in Venezuela reported the results of the Datanálisis poll just hours after Venezuelan Minister of Communications and Information Jesse Chacón declared on national television that the oppositional media were violating laws on objectivity during electoral periods by not reporting the results.
“The poll results have been available since last week, but since they are not favorable to the opposition, they have been hiding them,” said Chacón.