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
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
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
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
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!!!!!
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
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:
Jacqueline González (@jacogori) urges her followers to vote and points to Cuba as an example, quoting opposition candidate Maria Corina Machado:
La Resistencia (@Resistenciavzla) re-tweets a quote by a Venezuelan essayist and poet:
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.