Venezuela: Maduro’s Socialist Party Sweeps Regional Elections
By Staff- Agencies
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party and its allies have won big in regional elections participated by the opposition for the first time in four years.
Sunday’s vote for governors and mayors across the South American country, which was overseen by European Union observers, was widely seen as a political weather vane for a country that has experienced years of economic crisis worsened by crippling international sanctions.
Maduro said the victories, which saw his allies win 20 of 23 governor posts, as well as the mayor-ship of the capital Caracas, “must be celebrated”.
“The victory is impressive,” he said.
The elections drew a voter turnout of 41.8 percent, with 8.1 out of a possible 21 million voters casting a ballot, according to the National Electoral Council [CNE].
It was particularly significant as it saw the return of opposition parties that had boycotted elections in the country since 2018 amid allegations of fraud and intimidation by violent gangs loyal to Maduro.
Many of those parties hesitantly returned to the ballot after a raft of government concessions, including allowing observers from the EU, and amid frustration that a multi-year international sanctions campaign had failed to dislodge Maduro from power.
Meanwhile, the EU mission is set to present a report on the elections on Tuesday.
The three governor posts won by the opposition, however, include oil-rich Zulia, the most populated region in the country whose capital Maracaibo is Venezuela’s second-largest city.
In the 2017 regional elections, the governing party won 19 governorships, while opposition politicians took four.
The head of the 130-member EU observer mission, Isabel Santos, said on Sunday that the election was proceeding “calmly”, while the CNE said only “small and isolated problems” were registered during the course of voting.