This morning I drove around to the same electoral centers in Petare (East side of Caracas, in the state of Miranda) I visited during the October Presidential election. The difference was striking. No electoral centers had lines including one in El Llanito which at the same time of day (11 am) during the presidential elections had a line close to a kilometer long.
To get a feel for the difference look at the following two pictures of an electoral center in Jose Felix Ribas, a neighborhood in Petare.
This was the head of a line that was a couple of hundred meters long on October 7.
Today there was no line and people strolled easily in and out.
The Consejo Nacional Electoral estimated that participation had been 24% by 1 pm which would mean an overall turnout of 50% at the most. By international standards that is not bad for regional elections. But it would be significantly lower than the 2008 regional elections (62%) and much lower than predicted by those of us who thought this weeks’s dramatic events surrounding Chávez’s health would increase participation.
Indeed driving around it looks like an average December Sunday with traffic jams around shopping malls, not electoral centers.