No Clear Winner: Municipal Elections Affirm Political Division in Venezuela
EspañolMunicipal elections held on Sunday, December 8, showed once again Chavismo‘s dominance nationwide, but it also showed a strengthening of the opposition in key cities.
The election day was characterized by a series of incidents and irregularities, such as technical failures in voting machines and a lack of staff at election centers. Sumate, an electoral NGO, reported violations of several regulations, including the use of political propaganda at the election centers. The leader of the opposition, Henrique Capriles Radonski, described this election as, “the most abusive election campaign in history.”
Diosdado Cabello, first vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and president of the National Assembly, declared in a national broadcast, “we feel proud with what happened throughout the country and in Caracas.” He went on to add, “we don’t care about last names or social status. We don’t care about absolutely anything . . . We are the democratic ones.”
The rector of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, announced the first election results at 10:00pm, with the first set of “irreversible” results from 257 municipalities out of 337.
In this election, 58.9 percent of voters participated. Of those votes, Chavismo received 44.1 percent, while the opposition received 40.9 percent. With a difference of almost 300,000, the election results were similar to the presidential results from April 2013.
Even though the PSUV received most of the votes and won more municipalities nationwide — 196 to 53 — the political triumph wasn’t so evident.
Libertador, a municipality in the capital city, went to the PSUV candidate Jorge Rodríguez, with 54.55 percent of the vote. However, the remainder of the Metropolitan District went to the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). Antonio Ledezma was reelected mayor with 50.8 percent. The MUD also achieved victories in Baruta, Sucre, El Hatillo, and Chacao.
Opposition wins in other municipalities of outside Caracas, including Evelin Trejo de Rosales in Maracaibo, Miguel Cocchiola in Valencia, and Machín Machín in Barinas, the capital of a state highly dominated by Chávez’s family. Evelin Trejo de Rosales won over Maracaibo with 51.9 percent of the votes, Cocchiola with 55.87 percent, and Machín with 50.45 percent.
After news of the results, President Nicolás Maduro went to Plaza Bolívar and met with the Libertador mayor-elect, Jorge Rodríguez. There they celebrated their victory along with their followers. In this political rally, Maduro said, “first, we want to send our message of congratulations to the people of Venezuela for displaying exemplary behavior of peace, participation, and conscience.” He also thanked the Bolivarian National Military Force for their work during the elections, and highlighted, “we are going to deepen the economic offensive to protect the people.”
After the president began celebrating victory, Capriles declared in a press conference, “The whole country is divided . . . it needs dialogue . . . something has to be clear today: no one owns Venezuela. This country needs unity and dialogue”.
Today, the secretary of the MUD reported on an evaluation of election day. He congratulated “the true heroes” of yesterday’s elections, “the voters, those citizens who participated and went on to vote, who didn’t bail on Venezuela, I appreciate it.” He added, “We won’t forget that yesterday was declared the Day of Loyalty to Hugo Chávez, which was apparently forgotten in Barinas. We won’t forget the clear violations of electoral regulations either.”
In an interview, President Maduro called upon all the newly elected mayors to meet next Tuesday, December 10 to “work on an unified plan and align efforts.”