Monday, May 07, 2007

Elections in France and Venezuela

I know, I know, it might be a little tiresome but I must repeat myself again: the amazing differences between the Venezuelan electoral system and the French one are the simple reflection of electoral difference between a truly democratic country and one which is not. In case there is any doubt in the above sentence, the undemocratic country is Venezuela. Let's review the differences.

In Venezuela in spite of automated voting, results are known hours and hours and days later. In France, voting with little paper ballots that must counted one by one, at exactly polls closing time we get the first estimation.

The Interior ministry gives nearly complete results in the next couple of hours. In fact you can find the local results on the web BEFORE midnight!!!! That is by midnight on the web you can find most results of far flung little municipalities. In Venezuela the CNE page open with preliminary results next day, and the server is so loaded that you cannot access it until a day or two later!

Speaking of the CNE. No one trusts the supposedly impartial organism to run elections. In France it is the Interior Ministry itself that runs elections and I have yet to hear peep-squick from any of the candidates that have lost the election. Results are immediately acknowledged from all.

TV time was scrupulously followed. All candidates had near equal access. There were no "cadenas", there was limited advertisement time.

There was a real debate that lasted over two hours where both candidates had to explain themselves and where both had a watch that controlled their air time. Questioning by journalists was frequent during the campaign as Royal and Sarkozy submitted themselves to frequent and deep press conferences where they had very little control over the media that interrogated them. In Venezuela Chavez was only questioned by the submissive state media or some international joints. It would be unthinkable for either Royal or Sarkozy to avoid or dodge the star French journalists questions.

Sarkozy could not use state resources freely like Chavez did. Neither could Royal use the abundant resources from the huge majority of regional administration that socialists control. Oh, I am sure that whenever they could get away with it they must have billed some administration but the total combined abuses of Royal and Sarkozy probably do not match the abuses of Chavez in one day of his campaign.

Except for the occasional bitter barb, in particular from Royal at the end, both candidates show general respect for each other and both saluted the other one in their concession-victory speech. Chavez never ceased to insult Rosales or his supporters, and even had his goons try more than once any Rosales rally.

And more, much more, but the reader gets the idea. In Venezuela the electoral system is geared up to shamelessly favor whoever is in office. And then they expect the opposition to recognize the results without batting an eyelid.

-The end-

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