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Venezuela: September 26 Elections, Activism and Opinion via Twitter

This coming September 26, Venezuelans will exercise their right to vote for the thirteenth time during the eleven years of the government of President Hugo Chávez. These elections will renew the entire National Assembly- what used to be the Congress and is now a unicameral legislative body. Venezuelans will elect 165 deputies for the Assembly and 12 deputies for the Latin American Parliament; those elected will serve during the 2011-2015 term. These elections will be a preview of the 2012 presidential elections. Twitter has been one of the most used tools during the campaign.

It is important to note that Venezuela was recently ranked third in Twitter penetration in the world. The arrival of President Chávez to the network at the end of April spiked the use of Twitter by 4.8%, and Chávez (@chavezcandanga) now has more than 800 thousand followers; he is followed both by his supporters and the opposition.

Jhonny (@jhgra) through Twitter says:

@chavezcandanga ya tiene 819 mil 543 seguidores en Twitter” y la mayoria de la oposicion para saber que dice asi que xd

@chavezcandanga now has 819 thousand 543 followers on Twitter and most of them from the opposition to see what he says

Supporters of the current government and the opposition are aware of the power of this tool, and 105 candidates [es] for the Assembly have a Twitter account which they use frequently to campaign.  Candidate for the opposition María Corina Machado (@MariaCorina2010) criticises the current National Assebly with this tweet:

Esta es la misma AN q hace unos años creo la Comision para investigar la muerte d mascotas; pero no investiga 16mil muertes d vzlans en 2009

This is the same National Assembly that a few years ago created a Commission to investigate the death of pets; but they don't investigate 16thousand deaths of Venezuelans in 2009

Twitter account of opposition candidate María Corina Machado (@MariaCorina2010). Slogan reads "We are the majority"

The pro-Chávez candidate Freddy Bernal (@FreddyBernal) shows his support for the President:

No claudicaremos ante el imperio ni ante la apatrida burguesía. Cmdte Chavez en la AN

We will not give in to the empire nor to the unpatriotic bourgeoisie. Commander Chávez in the National Assembly

Like the candidates, citizens who favor the ruling party or the opposition share -among other things- their point of view on the country's situation, their desire to vote, and their affinity for their respective candidates.

Juan Carlos Alvarado (@juanc_34) supports his candidate:

Vean hoy por el canal i , al compatriota @freddybernal, dando claras respuestas y defendiendo a nuestro proceso socialista y humanista

Today watch channel i, our compatriot @freddybernal, giving clear answers and defending our socialist and humanist process

Omar Castejon (@castejon1) also sends Freddy Bernal a messsage:

@FreddyBernal Camarada Freddy no se deje apabuyar por los dos periodistas de Televen, PATRIA SOCIALISTA! O MUERTE! VENCEREMOS CAMARADA!!!!!

@FreddyBernal Comrade Freddy don't let the journalist from Televen overwhelm you, SOCIALIST NATION! OR DEATH! WE WILL WIN COMRADE!

José Leonardo Hill (@joselhill) thinks that:

Hay q ganar las elecciones,para legitimar el avance Revolucionario del socialismo,en Venezuela y en el mundo entero.@PartidoPSUV

We need to win the elections, to legitimize the Revolutionary advance of socialism, in Venezuela and the whole world. @PartidoPSUV

Twitter account of Chávez supporter Omar Castejon (@castejon1). Background Image: "PSUV: United Socialist Party of Venezuela"

On the other hand, tweets from the opposition show a great concern for the democratic system, and in many cases point to similarities with the Cuban model. Ana (@anabelland), with more than 5000 followers, asks:

¿Democracia?, ¿tienes idea de qué es? RT @Reporte360: Chávez: “Aquí hemos llegado para no irnos más” http://bit.ly/bnGicV

Democracy? do you have any idea what that is? RT @Reporte360: Chávez: “We have arrived here to never leave” http://bit.ly/bnGicV

Jacqueline González (@jacogori) urges her followers to vote and points to Cuba as an example, quoting opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado:

A votar! RT @globovision Corina Machado: “Vamos a escoger entre el Comunismo a la cubana, o democracia a la venezolana” http://bit.ly/aX0yth

Vote! RT @globovision Corina Machado: “We are going to choose between Communism Cuban style, or Venezuelan democracy” http://bit.ly/aX0yth

La Resistencia (@Resistenciavzla) re-tweets a quote by a Venezuelan essayist and poet:

RT @ftapia: Rafael Cadenas: las democracias son siempre corregibles, las dictaduras son siempre empeorables vota el #26S #MUD #Venezuela

RT @ftapia: Rafael Cadenas: Democracies can always be corrected, dictatorships always worsen, vote on #26S #MUD #Venezuela

Two views in the same country, which will be measured in less than 10 days. Luis Vicente León (@luisvicenteleon), President of Datanálisis –one of the most respected survey agencies in the country– predicted that election results would be tight giving 52% to pro-Chávez candidates and 48% to the opposition [es].

In Venezuela the media and journalists are not allowed to reveal any type of official information on the election results via Twitter. So on September 26 citizens will have the power to inform through 140 characters.

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