Caracas, November 2, 2004—Venezuelans went to the polls Sunday, October 31 to vote for governors and mayors during the regional elections. Despite relatively high absention, the CNE’s preliminary results show Chavista victories that are unlikely to be reversed in 18 of the 20 states, and that Yaracuy and Carabobo are still too close to call, although Chavistas lead in both.
Even though the National Electoral Council (CNE) has promised to provide the final election results by the end of the week, the preliminary forecast of the regional elections has provoked much dissention between government and opposition candidates in Carabobo, Yaracuy, and Miranda, with contenders on both sides preemptively declaring victory.
Jorge Rodríguez, member of the Board of Directors for the National Electoral Council (CNE), along with legal advisor Andrés Brito, headed off to Carabobo today, while Board of Directors substitute Tibisay Lucena went to Yaracuy to supervise the remaining counting process.
Although the incumbent opposition leader in Carabobo, Henrique Salas Feo, was expected to be reelected, preliminary results have calculated that he has received only 275,566 votes (48.7%) to the 285,363 (50.4%) earned by the pro-Chávez candidate Luis Acosta Carles.
Various episodes of violence errupted yesterday, which were provoked by results released by opposition candidates that contradict the CNE’s preliminary results. The National Guard arrived in Valencia in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 2, in order to put down a riot in which government supporters pillaged and destroyed a school located in the southern part of the city as well as set fire to and looted a bread store.
The military maintained its presence throughout the day as a large group of supporters of Salas positioned themselves in the Avenida Bolívar in order to hear him give a speach in which he declared himself victorious by a margin of 130,000 votes, “if my delegates won all of the municipal councils by more than 50%, there is no way that they can explain to me that I have less votes… The people of Carabobo demand that the CNE gives fair and true results and respects the popular will”.
Despite the arrival of Jorge Sucre, president of the opposition group Project Venezuela (PV), demanding the recognition of the victory of Henrique Salas Feo, Eliseo García, president of the Regional Committee of Carabobo commented that they are still waiting to certify the results of the election and that the final results will depend primarily on the outcomes of the municipalities of Naguanagua and Valencia. This was confirmed by Luis Acosta Carles, who added that neither of the two candidates had obtained victory yet.
In Yaracuy, preliminary results show Carlos Giménez with 76.822 votes (49.5%) and incumbent Eduardo Lapi with 74.974 votes (48.3%). Although political analysists forecasted pro-government victories, Yaracay has historically supported the oppostion. Given the narrow margin between the candidates, the governorship could still be up for grabs.It still remains unclear as to why the broadcasting of the electoral results have been temporarily suspended. However, the CNE will not release final results until the last vote has been counted. The CNE is in the process of obtaining all of the results of each individual committee in order that the National Electoral Directorate (JNE) will be in charge of counting them and declaring the winner.