Madrid, Spain - Today is an incredibly important day for Venezuelans: we have to choose between two contrasting proposals for our country’s future. On one side we have Twenty-First Century Socialism. On the other hand, there is a democratic candidate who has managed to unite the different groups among the opposition for the first time in 14 years. It is a day that represents hope of change, progress and a better Venezuela for supporters of both parties. I am proud to say I participated, from thousands of miles away and in a different time zone.
Madrid is the world’s second-largest voting center outside of Venezuela, with 7,600 people registered to vote and an expectation that 5,500 Venezuelans will actually vote here today. Despite all the confusion that has surrounded the elections, organization in Madrid has proven to be smooth, with fast and efficient voting tables. The Comando Exterior Venezuela (CEV) even organized a group of volunteers to stand guard at the Venezuelan consulate in Madrid to guide uninformed people to the site where the voting is being held. What impressed me the most is voters' active, happy and energetic participation—all making their best efforts to feel as if they were in Venezuelan soil.
London, England – The energy around the Consular Section of the Venezuelan Embassy in London is beyond expectations, with Venezuelan flags everywhere after an exciting day of voters coming out to express their hope for a new direction for the country. It is now midnight in London (7:00 pm EDT/ 6:30 pm in Caracas) and hundreds of Venezuelans are still here waiting to make sure that every vote cast is being fairly and accurately counted.
For me and many others, the day started at 7:00 am as I was responsible for conducting exit poll interviews. After eight hours of speaking with Venezuelan voters, the choice was clear: of 150 voters interviewed, all except for five people said they had voted for Henrique Capriles.
Caracas, Venezuela - At of 9:45pm (local) on Sunday an undisclosed number of voting centers across Venezuela had remained open for continued voting. These are centers that due to high voter turnout or to delays at the beginning of the day still have voters lined up outside their doors waiting to cast their ballot.
But now the results are in: the Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Council—CNE) announced that Chávez won with 54.42 percent of the votes—a nearly 10 percentage point lead over Henrique Capriles who received 44.97 percent of the votes according to the first CNE report.
A wide array of minor irregularities have been reported in polling centers throughout the day in all corners of the country from technical malfunctions of the machines to isolated incidents of voter violence. Despite these reports, this historic day of elections has by all accounts been a smooth, civil and massively participatory democratic event.
Caracas, Venezuela - We are just hours away from Venezuela’s Election Day and it is time to relax, sit tight and wait to see if the polls are finally right. The last two weeks of the campaign were crucial for both candidates. However it was Henrique Capriles who took the greatest advantage of the end of the campaign by making his youth and his energy pillars of the visits he made to each state.
Two weeks ago President Hugo Chávez still had yet to visit half of the states in the country as a candidate. That is lot to say given that the campaign has been in progress since July. Although he tried to keep up with Capriles’ pace, speeches in the states where Chávez did visit were no longer than 30 minutes—clear signs of his weak health. Furthermore, his strategy as a speaker oddly shifted as well, deciding to emphasize an acknowledgement of his mistakes and the fact that the revolution is far more important than problems such as insecurity and high inflation.
On July 1, Mexicans will choose their president for the next six years. This will be the fourth time the electoral process is not organized by the government but by a supposedly non-biased institution, the Instituto Federal Electoral or IFE.
Mexico likes to boast (especially since 2000) that we hold free, fair and transparent elections. And while that may be the case to some extent, the country could learn a lot from its Latin American neighbors with regard to the process in itself. More than ever, Mexico would benefit from the implementation of a two-round runoff election as opposed to its current majority rule system.
Prior to 1994, general elections were but a façade to legitimize the perpetuation in power of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). Without an independent regulatory body to observe the process, elections results were heavily and systematically manipulated, voting booths with opposition preference were ransacked and official tallies always placed the PRI as an absolute majority winner. Under these circumstances, the official rules of the process were irrelevant and a second round of elections would have never made sense as the PRI would always get over 50 percent of the supposed electorate preference.
Guatemalans head to the polls again tomorrow for the second round of their 2011 presidential elections that pits LIDER’s Manuel Baldizón against Patriot Party’s Otto Pérez Molina, a former army general during the height of the country’s civil war in the 1980s.
During the first round held on September 11, Pérez Molina secured a 13 percent lead over his rival, but not enough to ensure the 50 percent required by national law to claim victory.
In a surprisingly muted secondary phase of campaigning, Pérez Molina is still the favorite to win, with a 42 to 58 percent voter base according to a poll on Thursday in Prensa Libre, one of the leading national newspapers.
Iduvina Hernandez Batres, Director of Seguridad en Democracia paints a grim picture of the election. She said, “We are living in a state of risk in Guatemala. And with the chapina curse. That curse is that we have to choose between two criminals.”
The race for mayor of
Lima has never seen a female alcalde before (nor a female president). However, this year, the polls show that it is likely that one of these two women will win the mayoral race. While
Although both women have in the past advocated for women rights, in this campaign, neither has played up their gender. Despite being female and middle class, there is little else in common between the two candidates.
Lourdes Flores leads the Partido Popular Christiano party. She has run for president twice before, coming in second place. She is a lawyer by training and has served in Congress. Susana Villarán leads the Fuerza Social movement and was Women’s Minister in 2002, and has served as the ombudsman for the national police. She has always been a champion for human rights and has run for President, coming in seventh place.
Colombian presidential hopeful Antanas Mockus, said in an interview yesterday that, if he is elected, he would seek to normalize trade with Venezuela and use diplomatic channels to diffuse tensions between the two Andean countries, which have intensified in recent years. Mr. Mockus is Colombia’s Green Party candidate for president and has taken the lead in polls in recent weeks ahead of the country’s May 30 elections.
In the interview, Mockus expressed his desire to “choose the path of respect and prudence” with Venezuela but also noted that, “if Venezuela becomes another Cuba, it would be sad for everyone.” He also discussed relations with the United States and expressed his intention to continue strengthening ties to the United States and to ensure the continuation of the Plan Colombia aid program that has helped Colombia combat narcotrafficking and guerilla groups.