Chavez's reforms not as popular as the president: Leon

Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:05pm EST

Undated handout photo of Luis Vicente Leon, pollster with local Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis. REUTERS/Handout

Undated handout photo of Luis Vicente Leon, pollster with local Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

Luis Vicente Leon, pollster with local Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis:

Chavez has not managed to validate his constitutional reforms with a large majority, which has happened in elections that are votes for him. It is obvious that the popularity of the president, above 60 percent, is not at risk here. But the proposal is not so popular as elements of the Chavez camp are rejecting it and are concerned about it.

It is difficult to make an electoral projections because the numbers of abstentions and undecided voters are high, the perfect ground for a surprise. The most probable is that there will be no surprise and Chavez will win 60 percent against 40 percent, but technically there is a possibility that it could happen, which is something that has not existed before.

The key abstentions will be not from the opposition, but from the Chavistas who are not part of the hard-core nucleus, who support Chavez, but who don't like the proposals. But they are not defined yet. They believe it would be betrayal, they believe that voting "No" is voting for the opposition or that voting "No" will allow the opposition to take advantage to try to remove Chavez from power. So in this scenario, they prefer to abstain.

While Chavez has 62 percent popularity, the reforms have 34.9 percent. So it is more important that Chavez use his strength and sell Chavez supporters the idea that they are voting for him, for his continuation, rather than for the reforms themselves. And we see that in the propaganda, the campaign is "Yes means Chavez" or "Continue on with Chavez".

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