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Caracas, Tuesday December 04 , 2007  
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States of Zulia, Miranda, and Táchira played a decisive role

The Venezuelan opposition regained the lost ground in the states of Carabobo, Lara, Mérida, and Anzoátegui thanks to the “red” votes(File Photo)
The opposition won the referendum in seven out of the eight most important states in the country, based on the number of voters, namely Zulia, Miranda, Carabobo, Lara, Anzoátegui, and the Capital District

EUGENIO MARTÍNEZ
EL UNIVERSAL

President Hugo Chávez's intended changes to the Constitution were approved in 15 out of 24 Venezuelan states. However, significant rejection in the states of Zulia, Miranda, and Táchira eventually tipped the balance in favor of the No-bloc.

Further, the opposition won the referendum in seven out of the eight most important states in the country, based on the number of voters, namely Zulia, Miranda, Carabobo, Lara, Anzoátegui, and the Capital District (Caracas). The exception in this case was central Aragua state.

Similarly to the presidential election in 2006, the opposition regional leaderships failed in 15 out of the 24 states of Venezuela. Unlike the presidential election in 2006, this time Chavezism had a hard time trying to make Chávez's followers take part in the election, to the extent that Chávez in one year dropped 2,929,688 votes.

While the referendum held last Sunday was not a presidential vote, comparisons are unavoidable, especially because Chávez's government focused its electoral strategy in turning the reform referendum into a plebiscite.

This time, things were different for the opposition. In the 2006 presidential ballot, Chávez's foes -through presidential candidate Manuel Rosales- gained 4,292,466 votes. In Sunday referendum, the No-bloc obtained 4,504,350 votes, an increase of 211,884 ballots in 12 months.

However, research firm Datanálisis director Luis Vicente León warns that it is a mistake thinking that the votes rejecting the constitutional reform belong to the opposition. He explains that a significant number of Chávez's followers voted No to turn down the proposed changes to the Constitution.

León branded as a mistake the opposition claims that Chávez's followers are a minority group. He underscores that it is necessary to differentiate between the support for the reform and the support for the Venezuelan ruler.

Insufficient efforts
Anti-Chavezism has been gaining ground in central Aragua state since 2004, when a recall vote against Chávez was held. At that time, only 193,925 voted to terminate Chávez's mandate. Two years later, in the 2006 presidential vote, 208,603 people voted for Chávez's rival, Manuel Rosales. Last Sunday, with Aragua state governor Didalco Bolívar -a bastion of Chavezism- heading the electoral campaign against the constitutional reform- 288,897 people voted NO. Efforts, however, were not enough, as the Yes-bloc obtained 324,745 votes.

The dissenters also expected good results in eastern Sucre state, where governor Ramón Martínez leaded the rejection against the reform. His efforts resulted in the opposition slowing down its trend to lose votes in this state. In 2004 recall referendum, Chávez's foes gained 101,617 votes in Sucre state. The figure fell to 93,791 in the 2006 presidential vote, and in Sunday referendum it climbed to 120,214 votes. However, just like in Aragua state, this rebound was insufficient, and the Yes-bloc prevailed with 125,494 votes.

Chávez's major supporters
Abstention was estimated at 44.1 percent, or 7,104,362 voters. This figure did not have any bearing in the trends observed in several states since Chávez was first elected in 1998.

In seven out of 24 states, six out of every 10 people continue to show support for Chávez or his proposals. In Amazonas state, 65.7 percent of voters endorsed Chávez's proposed reform. In Portuguesa state, the intended changes were backed by 63 percent of voters, just like in Apure state (61 percent), Delta Amacuro (60.9 percent), Cojedes state (60.8 percent) and Guárico (58 percent).  

With the rejection against the reform, the opposition -based on votes lent from Chávez's followers- once again triumphed in seven states that have supported Chávez ever since the recall vote in 2004.

Miranda state is one of the states reconquered. The No-bloc's lead over the Yes-bloc was 119,988 votes.

In Táchira, the No-bloc obtained 57,985 votes more than the Yes-bloc. In Carabobo state, the No-bloc's lead over the Yes-bloc was 44,090 votes. In the states of Anzoátegui, Mérida, and the Capital District, the difference between the No-bloc and the Yes-bloc was 39,831, 39,762, and 39,762, respectively.

The most pyrrhic victory of the No-bloc was in northwestern Lara state -the home state of Chávez's former wife Marisabel Rodríguez, who campaigned against the reform-, at 11,877 votes.

emartinez@eluniversal.com

Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.
msuarez@eluniversal.com



 
 
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