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VENEZUELA
“The opposition did not win, the discontented did”
Latinamerica Press
12/21/2015
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Opposition wins parliamentary elections and achieves supermajority.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), which groups a number of opposition parties of different ideologies, ranging from the liberal right to the Marxist left, won the parliamentary election held on Dec. 6. It received 112 congressional seats, including three seats corresponding to the indigenous constituencies, of a total of 167 members in the National Assembly. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 55 seats.

According to preliminary data from the National Electoral Council, Primero Justicia led by former presidential candidate and current governor of the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, won 33 seats, followed by Acción Democrática (27 seats), Un Nuevo Tiempo (19 seats) and Voluntad Popular (17 seats) — party of the jailed leader Leopoldo López —, while the remaining 13 seats will be occupied by other members of the MUD parties.

On Jan. 5, the new legislators will take office to serve for five years, and the new board will be elected. The MUD announced that one of the first legislative acts will be to grant amnesty to those 75 jailed opposition leaders, including López — sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of instigating violent protests in February 2014 that left 43 people dead —, the Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, and Daniel Ceballos, former mayor of San Cristóbal, capital of the southwestern state of Táchira.

President Nicolás Maduro, whose term ends in 2019, admitted the ruling party’s defeat, but said that he “will not accept any amnesty law. They can send me a thousand laws but the murderers of this country have to pay”, he said.

While the opposition obtained a supermajority that will allow it to create organic laws, appoint members of the judicial and electoral powers, reform the Constitution or convene a Constituent Assembly, the president can veto decisions.

Shared responsibility
Several analysts agree that the opposition victory was a protest vote against the government.

According to press reports, the results demonstrate the people’s dissatisfaction with the economic situation characterized by inflation of nearly 200 percent —considered the highest in the world — the recession and shortages that force people to wait in long lines to buy staples, in addition to the growing insecurity. According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory, 2014 ended with almost 25,000 homicides, a rate of 82 violent deaths per 100,000 people, which ranks Venezuela as “the country with the second highest homicide rate in the world, only surpassed in magnitude by Honduras (with a rate of 104 per 100,000 people), which is ranked first.”

The ruling party candidate Freddy Bernal was emphatic in stating that “the opposition did not win, the discontented did.”

President Maduro attributed the defeat to the economic war against the socialist revolution, allegedly driven by the opposition with the help of the private sector and the US. However, according to various surveys, 60 percent of the population blames the government for the crisis.

Argentine researcher Atilio Borón highlighted in an article published by the Agencia Latinoamericana de Información (ALAI) that “after 17 years of Chavism, in the midst of extremely hard conditions prevailing in Venezuela, the official party can still count on the adhesion of 40 per cent of the electorate in Parliamentary elections.”

“The results have shifted the ground of the opposition from their facile stances and frenetic denunciations, because now, having a comfortable parliamentary majority, they will share responsibility in the conduct of public affairs. Now the government will not be the only player responsible for the difficulties that affect the citizenry. This responsibility will, from now on, be shared,” Boron said.
— Latinamerica Press.


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