With both the London mayoral post and Venezuelan presidency up for grabs next year, there is a lot aspirational candidates can learn from veteran racer, Hugo Chavez.

For all of you out there warming up for the big race, the gold chain and the hottest seat in Town, the festive season is the perfect time to start wooing your electorate. Why not take a leaf out of Hugo’s little red book and send every cellphone owning Brit a festive text: A personal touch with a modern, youthful twist. It could be short and sweet, like “Merry Christmas”, or if you are angling for a more inclusive, secular appeal how about a simple, “Happy Holiday, love [insert name here]”.

However, if you want something with more substance and are a little short on inspiration have a peak at what the charismatic, once, twice, three times a winner, Venezuelan President, sent his electorate this year:

            “Each December, during all this time, we have celebrated our victorious and unstoppable march towards the Good & Pretty Fatherland… full of happiness, justice and social equality. Merry Christmas companions. Hugo Chavez.”

With cell phone penetration in Venezuela at 104%, this message reached every single Venezuelan of voting age. That’s over 29 million texts. Infact, Chavez had to send so many text messages that they took 3 days to leave his outbox, with some citizens receiving the message as late as the 26th of December. By then, however, for an unfortunate few too many, the march towards justice and social equality had already stopped and Hugo’s message still sits in their inbox unread, awaiting their resurrection.

Photo Alejandro Tarre

With 385 recorded homocides to date, this December is prooving to be Venezuela’s second bloodiest month of the year.  To put this in perspective, the number of people murdered in Venezuela this December alone, makes up for 60% of the UK’s total homocide figures for this year. So whilst Chavez celebrates his victorious and unstoppable march towards the Good & Pretty Fatherland, Venezuela marches with an ever increasing pace to the top of the UN’s list of most dangerous countries in the World. Since Chavez was elected in 1999, annual homicide figures have risen from 4,550, as recorded that year, to 19, 336 as recorded this year – the most violent since records began. In other words, in Hugo’s twelve years in office homocides alone have quadrupled.

Despite the governments failure to address crime levels, Hugo’s approval ratings in the lead up to next year’s October election are looking strong, with many pollsters showing approval ratings of 58% to almost 69%. His renaissance is hardly a surprise following announcements like this month’s unveiling of the “Great Sons of Venezuela” mission.  The scheme, in itself a very honourable one, is another short-sighted, pre-election cash giveaway. It will enable low-income families to claim from the Goverment the equivalent of £64 per month for each child, for up to three children per family, and £90 for disabled dependents.

So for those of you aspiring Mayors sweating over your policies and pulling your hair out over making promises you are bound to break, if Chavez’ success is anything to go by, you are wasting your time. The key to winning elections and selling ideologies isn’t good, long-term policies or kept promises.

So get texting quick! And if you are worried your message won’t get to your electorate in time for New Year (the next festive opportunity in the calender), don’t worry, unlike Chavez, you only need to send 7.825 million texts to ensure you welcome every Londoner into the New Year.


  1. I don’t get what you’re complaining about in this article. The policy you call a ‘another short-sighted, pre-election cash giveaway’? I’d say another name for it would be child benefit. This is an excellent policy, as it helps people with children replace their lost earning power, pay for the extra costs of children, and therefore bring up the next generation, a social good. You haven’t given any reason for being against it.

    If Chavez is so bad, how come he keeps winning elections over and over again, including a referendum, with majorities ranging between excellent and good, despite a virulently right wing media in Venezuela? If people don’t like him, and his oppressive child benefit, can’t they vote him out?

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