Social networks, misinformation and poll war: This is how the electoral campaign develops in Venezuela

Social networks, misinformation and poll war: This is how the electoral campaign develops in Venezuela





Having free and fair elections this July 28th is one of the most frequent requests and wishes among citizens. “I want transparent and free elections to be held,” responded Isabel Marcano, a resident of Cumaná, when consulted by the team in the city’s Plaza Ayacucho.

Víctor Federico González // Correspondent

In addition to fair conditions during the electoral process, the majority of those consulted agree in hoping that this electoral process that is about to be held in Venezuela on July 28th, will serve to begin to improve salaries and wages, improve public services and the educational and healthcare centers infrastructure , among other aspirations.

For the political consultant and director of Sala 58, Luis Peche, the citizens who support the opposition sector who, in his opinion, seem to be the majority at this juncture, appeal to the “hope of political change in a message that is focused on reunion of the family, in the recovery of the quality of life, in the recovery of normality and institutional respect.”

According to Peche, these are variables that are linked to the expectation of change that the presidential candidate, Edmundo González, and the political leader María Corina Machado embody today. “If there is a problem that the PSUV(The regime’s political party) has in this campaign is that it lacks a message for the citizens, taking into account that they have been in power for a quarter of a century, 25 years. So, at the narrative level, it is very difficult for the PSUV to send a message and that is also why we can say that we have seen a citizenry more mobilized towards the opposition message embodied in the figure of Edmundo González,” he explained.

Citizen perspective

“My opinion is that all retirees will be paid on the 28th, because Maduro offered 10,000 Bs and did not give it to them (…) I know that the retirees will vote against (the regime),” responded Jesús Vásquez when consulted by

For her part, the young university student, Elianny García, stated that she hopes it will be a fair vote and that it will bring benefits for Cumaná and Sucre State. “I hope that the health service is improved, there are services that are not currently offered to low-income people. It would be ideal for this support to be provided, medications to be delivered. Take into account people with disabilities,” she added.

“Let them respect the will that is expressed that day. Enough of living among so many problems and with our families scattered all over the world. That is what I hope for that day,” said Andreína Antón, a mother with two children abroad and a teacher by profession.

Current outlook

For Peche, it is evident that the presidential election on July 28 is neither fair nor equitable, and that the referee is going to make decisions that favor the official candidate, Nicolás Maduro.

Regarding the change in the regulations on electoral center witnesses just made by the National Electoral Council (CNE), he argued that this decision “complicates the search and obtaining of electoral witnesses by, above all, the Unitary Platform (PU) and the rest of the candidates that do not belong to the Government.

“One must consider that the Government party has the capacity, through State resources, to reach practically every corner of the country, exerting pressure on public officials, people linked to the different income collection systems, such as the CLAP program, among others.”

Likewise, he said that establishing that witnesses work on election day in the same center where they vote is a limitation that makes the task of the Venezuelan opposition difficult, despite the fact that for now the official opposition spokespersons affirm that “they are prepared for this scenario.”

“I think it has to be seen in practice. It must be a significant blow for the opposition to have to locate all these people in all corners of the country (…) We know that to the extent that there are no witnesses, the defense of the vote in all corners of the country becomes more complex,” he added.

In relation to the signing of a new agreement to accept the results of the presidential election, Peche asserted that the existence of the Barbados agreement “practically conditions any signing of any other agreement,” since if the Barbados agreement has not been respected, which It was a document recognized by the international community and by the parties that today dispute power in Venezuela, it does not make sense to sign any new agreements.

“Since the signing of the Barbados agreement there have been multiple violations by the Government of the terms of the agreement: political freedoms, persecution of those around María Corina Machado, the non-participation of the European Union as an observer, among other things,” he stated.

Regarding the most recent actions of persecution against the opposition sector, he regretted that this could increase as the electoral schedule advances. “We have seen in recent weeks that unfortunately up to five people have been subject to persecution, either by capture or arrest warrants for being dissidents to the Government, all in the state of Vargas, they join the people who are currently taking refuge in the Embassy of Argentina, they join political prisoners like Dignora Hernández and Henry Alviárez.”

According to Peche, the first objective of all this is to demobilize and condition the work of political activism in Venezuela. “It is a risk to do activism and it could mean jail time, which is why many people think twice before joining this political activism and, secondly, it conditions any type of negotiation. “Chavismo has used political prisoners in the past as a negotiating tool,” he asserted.

A little over a month before the electoral event, fake news onslaught forced on citizens through social networks is increasing, a disinformation campaign promoted by official political actors or the Government itself. The manipulation of certain polls has taken center stage in this effort.

Peche attributes great importance to social networks and highlights that they have been the axis of the electoral campaign by all actors at this time. “Today it is less common for the electoral campaign to focus on television and radio, but understanding that people spend all day with their cell phones, it is much easier to reach them through a video, a photo, advertising, networking. So this has become a fundamental part.”

He explained that the axis of the campaign of María Corina Machado and Edmundo González has been the networks, basically the real-time coverage of their journeys in the different states and regions of the country. And on the part of the PSUV the same applies, the search to reach as many people as possible using campaigns on YouTube and on all available networks to amplify their messages.

It is worth saying that credible polls in the country establish a significant gap between the opposition candidate Edmundo González and the official candidate for re-election, Nicolás Maduro. According to the president of ORC Consultores, Oswaldo Ramírez, in an interview for the Voice of America, González, driven by the leadership of María Corina, has 54.99% voting intention, while Maduro has 14.42%. These data correspond to a study carried out between May 16 and 24th.

The possible victory of Edmundo González would represent a political transition. In the opinion of political consultant Luis Peche, it would be a milestone that “would basically leave the months between July and January for the construction of a transition in which different types of concessions will probably have to be given to the actors involved with Chavismo so that they deliver power peacefully.”

The scenario of a re-election of Maduro would mean a debacle, the “devastation of any type of expectation of political change in the coming years, which could be associated with more migration, more hopelessness and disconnection with politics.”