As reported last week, it looks like there will be no significant international observation during the presidential elections. Based on the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) view that Venezuela is a sovereign country, and that they can fully guarantee the integrity of the election, none of the organizations that have fulfilled this role in the past—the European Union, Organization of American States, and the Carter Center—will this time. Only Unasur will be present with its newly established electoral council. However, it is not clear that Unasur has the technical and administrative capacities, nor the political will to carryout truly independent observation. And international “accompaniment” is not a good substitute since it amounts to short-term visits by foreigners that do not have independent movement and do not have the technical capacity or administrative infrastructure to form an independent opinion.
Two questions on Datanalisis’ most recent Omnibus show that the CNE’s perception is not shared by the electorate. A large majority, including two thirds of government supporters, thinks international observation would contribute to the credibility of the election.
A second question breaks down the issue further, allowing respondents to choose between some likely answers. Here around half of the respondents think international observation is essential to the credibility of the elections. This is the leading response among all sectors. If we take the first two responses as support for international observation we see here again that a majority (58%) of government supporters think international observation would be important in the upcoming presidential elections.
It is unsurprising that the opposition would support international observation. Feeling that the government controls public institutions, including the electoral arbiter, the opposition logically wants independent, outside arbiters. What is surprising is how much support there is among those who back the government. Perhaps it is because they remember the 2004 referendum, when it was international observers that undermined the opposition’s evidence-free claims of fraud.