Yes to Venezuelan constitutional referendum: exit polls


Caracas : Three exit polls have projected that the “yes” vote had won in the referendum on constitutional overhaul as Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced delay in the initial results.

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The surveys were carried out by PLM Consultores, Datanalisis and the Venezuelan Data Analysis Institute, or IVAD, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.

The results were leaked to the press even though Venezuelan law prohibits the publication of exit polls before the release of official results.

PLM Consultores said that 54 percent of the public had voted ‘yes’ to 46 percent ‘no’, Datanalisis gave 56 percent to the ‘yes’ option and 44 percent to the ‘no’ choice, and IVAD said that 53 percent of the votes had been cast for ‘yes’.

Venezuelan Information Minister William Lara asked the opposition to respect the results of the referendum.

“The ‘no’ command knows what the result is. It’s time to make good on the word they gave (Saturday) that they would recognise the result,” Lara told private television channel Venevision, ahead of the results which had to be delayed.

CNE said the delay was because voter turnout was so high that some stations remained open after closing time.

Opposition leader Gerardo Blyde called upon the national government to remain calm in the face of the official results and not to try to predict those results precipitously.

“They also know the results and the government is obliged to maintain its calm. We have to wait. The best thing is not to hurry things. Calm over there and calm over here,” Blyde told reporters.

CNE chief Tibisay Lucena earlier told reporters that the referendum would allow Venezuela to give “a lesson on democracy to the whole world,” adding that there had only been “four or five” isolated incidents at polling places.

Some 16 million Venezuelans were eligible to go to the polls Sunday and cast their ballot for or against the overhaul proposed by President Hugo Chavez to modify 69 of the 350 articles of Venezuela’s 1999 constitution.

The changes Venezuelans were being asked to approve included eliminating presidential term limits, mandating a 36-hour work-week and creating new types of property alongside the existing categories of private and public.

Another measure would give the government the right to suspend due process and press freedom during a state of emergency.

Opinion polling does not have a good track record in Venezuela, but some Chavez rivals noted recently that some of the same pollsters who accurately forecast the president’s re-election victory last year were pointing to a close contest.