HAVANA TIMES – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections Sunday, boycotted by a weakened opposition, reported dpa.
Just over 30% of the registered voters participated in the widely discredited vote. Maduro said on Monday that he and his Socialist allies had won just over 67% of the vote. Other lesser parties that were allowed to participate received 32 percent, said Maduro’s election officials.
The figures are based on 82 percent of the votes counted, said Maduro’s top election official Indira Alfonzo, early Monday.
The taking of the country’s only opposition-controlled State institution “officially” gives Maduro dictatorial powers. In effect, the Assembly was already preempted by Maduro’s parallel Constituent Assembly created in 2017. Now the president takes full “official” control of the national legislature.
Curiously the 67 percent is the same amount supposedly garnered by Maduro in the 2018 presidential elections. Those elections were also without real opposition participation as the main opposition coalition was banned from taking part.
We say “supposedly” because those elections and Sunday’s were without independent observation and widely considered fraudulent.
The leading opposition parties boycotted the election
The main opposition parties boycotted the Assembly elections, headed by opposition leader and parliamentary speaker Juan Guaido.
“The dictatorship does not want to conduct an election, but destroy the hopes of a country,” Guaido wrote on Twitter.
“The election is a fraud by the dictatorship led by Nicolas Maduro and will make the crisis in our country only worse,” wrote Julio Borges, the foreign minister of Guaido’s counter-government on Twitter.
Telesur put the voter turnout at around 31 per cent. More than 20 million people were eligible to elect 277 members of the National Assembly, an increase of 110 lawmakers compared to the outgoing parliament.
Maduro, who won a second term in 2018 elections widely criticized as undemocratic, has presided over an economic meltdown. The prolonged crisis includes hyperinflation, acute goods shortages and a plunge in oil production. Desperation has led some 5 million Venezuelans to flee the country, scattered throughout the continent and beyond.
Maduro has also cracked down on the opposition, with UN investigators accusing the government of grave human rights violations, including thousands of killings by security forces.
No guarantees, no observers to verify the vote
The European Union refused to send observers to monitor the vote, which the United States and the Organization of American States also criticized as lacking democratic guarantees.
Meanwhile, Maduro called on the international community to accept the election results. “We respect the right of self-determination of other peoples,” he wrote on Twitter. “We demand respect for the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people.”
Canada said on Sunday it would not accept the election results, as did Colombia, noted dpa.
Guaido is seen as weakened after his confrontational strategy against Maduro failed to oust the president. His future as a shadow president will partly depend on whether the US changes its policy on Venezuela after president-elect Joe Biden takes office.