Venezuela. According to
Countryaah, military officer Hugo Chávez, candidate for
Polo Patriótico, a left-wing alliance with the Movement of
Movimiento V República (MVR), won the presidential election
on December 6 after leading the polls since March. Chávez,
who staged a coup attempt in 1992 and is very unpopular
among businessmen and office colleagues, said he would like
to continue the previous government's policies broadly, even
though he advocated increased investment in social reforms,
financed through improved tax burdens.
Chávez's victory was favored by an increasingly bleak
economic scenario that seemed to confirm his designation of
the "mono-product economy" as the root of Venezuela's social
problems. Oil, the country's traditionally leading export
commodity, accounts for 80% of export revenue, 24% of GDP
and 50% of government revenue. The constantly falling oil
prices thus shattered the government's plans for 1998,
forcing it to gradually lower its economic targets. On the
other hand, the minimum wage was increased by 33% on May 1,
which led to redundancies and increased unemployment.
The election also marked a continued distrust and erosion
of the traditional bipartisan system with Acción Democrática
(AD) and the Comité de Organización Política Electoral
Independiente (COPEI), which dominated Venezuela since 1958.
The main candidates stood as independent, although some of
the candidates those during the course of the election
movement allied themselves with the established parties.