Monday, October 08, 2012

Venezuela votes

Venezuelans went to the polls today in presidential elections, and seem to have re-elected incumbent president Hugo Chávez for a 4th term. Chavez is not my cup of tea - he is far too authoritarian - but he seems to have won fairly and squarely in a tight contest. Which is pretty much all that can be said about it.

Meanwhile, the elections did offer some hope for Venezuelan democracy. Turnout was 80% - significantly higher than last election (and higher than New Zealand - see what happens when people have something to vote for?). The opposition united behind a single candidate, and recognised that in order to win they had to promise to continue most of Chavez's policies. Which suggests that they might eventually become electable and provide real democratic competition rather than letting Chavez win by default. No matter what you think of the political positions of the various parties, democracy wins when politicians have to fight hard for votes.