Thursday, 21 January 2010

Shameless gerrymandering

I thought for a second about using a more attractive title, but there is no point in doing that. What the pro-government National Electoral Council (CNE) did now in Venezuela is the cheapest gerrymandering you can conceive. Last year the National Assembly passed a law allowing the restructuring of electoral districts at almost any time. The opposition demanded changes to be made as soon as possible. The CNE promised months ago to announce the electoral districts n December. At the very last working day they announced just the electoral districts for states where the regime had a very clear majority in every electoral district: no change. They did not announce the districts for the most densely states, where the opposition is concentrated. A couple of days ago they did so. It was gerrymandering big time, as we thought.

The only non-chavista member of the council, Vicente Díaz, denounced the whole process. Tibisay Lucena, the head of the institution, countered that "those are political argumentations...we here are isolated from [political] tendencies". She added they used geographical, cultural and idiosyncratic criteria". The chuzpah.

Lucena is the same governmental functionary who went to Mali to promote the SmartMatic voting machines used by the Venezuela government, the same machines that do not produce the right paper trail, in the same system she claims to be "the best on Earth" even if it shows inconsistencies, even if partial results just appear many hours after the election took place and full results never come. In other countries where elections are carried out manually, as in Brazil, Chile, Norway, Sweden andNetherlands, results come very fast and without major. After some days you have all the results, unlike in Venezuela with its"the best system on Earth.

Here you have an example of what they did in one of those densely populated regions. Carabobo is my region. This is just one of the states where they did that. The electoral districts before looked like below. A colour corresponds to an electoral district. Electoral districts were made out of one or more municipalities.


Red: Naguanagua and Libertador.
Green: the Northernmost half of Valencia are very opposition-minded. The Southern part of urban Valencia is rather pro-government, even if the opposition has about 45% of support there, all in all against the regime.
Brownish: San Diego is a middle-middle-class municipality (not posh) that is very much anti-regime. Guacara is rather pro-government, although the governmental support is not very strong.
Blue: Puerto Cabello as a municipality is still rather pro-government, but the city proper is not and support for the opposition had been increasing there.
Yellow: rural area with regime-majority, but where the opposition was likely to gain support in Bejuma and perhaps Miranda. Libertador is one of the poorest areas and it is so dangerous we have few witnesses there. I have helped the opposition in that area and I have to tell you: it is scary to be defending votes there when it starts to get dark.
Violet: this is made of Los Guayos, a former poor village that is now a big poor town full of slums (I know the area well, some relatives live there) and Carlos Arvelo, a rural region where the regime has clear control.

Now it goes into this:


The winning party in each electoral district takes all the deputies assigned to that district.

First of all: the government reduced chances of the opposition getting representatives for Puerto Cabello by merging it with the rural areas to the West and Southwest of the state. Then they "idiosyncratically" divided Valencia and reduced the effect of the growing opposition in the South by merging it with Libertador (which has just about 60% of the population of parish Miguel Pena, but is very red, so Miguel P.'s growing opposition gets neutralized).

San Diego, which is separated by a mountain from Valencia municipality (see picture in previous post, it is part of that mountain range) and by quite some motorways and just grass Northwest and Southwest, is now "idiosyncratically" joined to the Northern Valencia-Naguanagua region. Guacara's growing opposition is now diluted.

With this gerrymandering alone (thus, without other "optimizations") they would get 6 out of 7 nominal deputies when before they would get 4 out of 6.

About 54% of the population voted against the government's referendum this year. Similar numbers went to the opposition last year. So: they will get if things remain as 54% of the population would get now just 1 of the nominal deputies and 46% will get 6. I will later go into more detail on this.

Lucena and her colleagues really must be feeling very sure that this regime will last as long as it suits them.

"Idiosyncratic" gerrimandering

Now Hugo of Sabaneta again asked the opposition to call for a referendum even if the opposition has not asked for it now. He also said the so-called "Bolivarian revolution" is here to stay until year 3485? Where did I read something like that before?

Ps. Chávez stated the opposition are "enculillados". That is a very vulgar Venezuelan Spanish expression to say someone is ... in his pants. And the Vice-President of the European Parliament and the Foreign Minister of Spain, both PSOE members, are so happy to meet Chávez. I reckon that is what they see as Realpolitik. Cosas veredes, Sancho


  1. Hola Kepler,

    I am impressed. Very good article and well explained.


  2. Hoi, Alpha. Thanks.
    I am sorry we have to write that kind of articles.
    I'd rather focus on writing ideas for Venezuela that a sensible democratic government may consider using. Instead, we have to spend time denouncing these shameless actions by chavistas.


1) Try to be constructive and creative. The main goal of this blog is not to bash but to propose ideas and, when needed, to denounce
2) Do not use offensive language
3) Bear in mind that your comments can be edited or deleted at the blogger's sole discretion
4) If your comment would link back to a site promoting hatred of ethnic groups, nations, religions or the like, don't bother commenting here.
5) Read point 4 again