HAVANA TIMES — Venezuela’s opposition secured a resounding victory yesterday at the legislative elections, obtaining a majority for the 2016-2021 term and ending the hegemony at the legislature maintained by supporters of Hugo Chavez and his hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro over the past 17 years.
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (“Democratic Unity Roundtable”, or MUD) obtained 99 seats at the National Assembly, well above the 46 to be occupied by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), chair of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena announced after 96.03 percent of results had been analyzed.
An additional 19 seats are still to be defined, as are three representatives of indigenous communities. Whether the opposition will have an absolute majority will depend on the outstanding results.
“The change has begun, Venezuela!” MUD executive secretary Jesus “Chuo” Torrealaba announced after the official figures were made known.
“Today, we have cause for celebration. The country asked for a change and that change begins now. Our votes managed to democratically defeat a government that is not democratic,” Torrealba stated at his party venue.
The favorable results secured by the opposition represent an unprecedented victory in nearly 17 years of Bolivarian government.
The elections for the 167 seats at the National Assembly were conducted in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility and were only altered by an extension of the voting deadline at electoral locales, a move that vexed the opposition, which believed the move a maneuver by government forces to collect additional votes before the end of the day.
“We won, Venezuela! We’ve always said this was the way! Humility, maturity and clear-mindedness. Long live the people of Venezuela!” opposition leader Henrique Capriles wrote on Twitter.
President Nicolas Maduro offered a televised press conference immediately after the figures were announced. There, he acknowledged the PSUV’s defeat and spoke of the “triumph of democracy.”
“We’ve come with our morals, our ethics, to acknowledge these negative results, to accept them, and to say that democracy has triumphed,” the Venezuelan leader declared.
He insisted, however, that the triumph of the opposition was sustained by a “disloyal” campaign and an “economic war” which led to powerful inflation and consumer product shortages.
“The economic war has triumphed, a strategy to undermine our collective confidence in the country’s project has triumphed, the state of need created by a policy of savage capitalism, of hoarding products and making them more expensive, has circumstantially triumphed,” he charged.
Though the totality of the results have not yet been revealed, the MUD stated it expects to secure a more solid majority of as many as 113 seats, leaving government forces with a mere 54 representatives.
The results presented by the CNE revealed “crushing defeat for the government and a clear victory for the opposition,” the MUD declared.
The CNE announced that the seats still to be announced correspond to the states of Amazonas, Aragua, Carabobo, Guarico, Lara and Monagas. It stated that regional electoral boards will be responsible for announcing the results when irreversible trends become evident. This includes district number one in the east-laying state of Monagas, where the current chair of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, was seeking reelection.
Opposition leader Torrealba celebrated the victory, declaring that “Venezuela is at peace again. We will administer our victory properly and won’t attack anyone. Today, all of this changed and now the National Assembly is controlled by the people’s representatives. This is a real victory for those who have been persecuted, imprisoned and silenced.”
Official figures reveal that the MUD secured 72 nominal seats (through individual elections) and 27 seats under party lists, while the governing PSUV obtained 24 nominal and 22 party list seats.
The number of MUD representatives represents a simple majority in the Chamber, which will resume sessions on January 5.
As much as 74.25 % of the population voted for the two contending fronts: the PSUV and the MUD, which gathered some 30 opposition groups.
According to Torrealba, the results send a clear message to the government that the country is tired of “suffering the consequences of their failure.”