Venezuelan elections show division among the opposition

CARACAS (AP) – In elections where abstention was dominant and the allies of the government of President Nicolás Maduro won the bulk of the positions to be elected in the state and municipal elections on Sunday in Venezuela, the need for union was once again evident among the opposition parties that added a large number of votes as a whole, sometimes more than the ruling party, but that did not translate into victories due to the dispersion of the opposition vote.

The discouragement of many who chose not to vote was also decisive. “After these elections one is left with more sadness, more disappointment,” said Julio César Blanca, a 43-year-old bricklayer.

According to the second official bulletin, corresponding to 99.20% of the votes transmitted, 42.26% or 8,151,793 participation in the elections of the more than 21 million Venezuelans registered in the electoral roll, a foreseeable incidence after almost five years of calls from the main opposition parties not to vote and the boycott since 2017 of the previous electoral processes, arguing that there were not sufficient conditions to guarantee that the elections were fair and transparent.

Thus, the official alliance won the mayoralty of Caracas with the official candidate Carmen Meléndez, former Defense Minister, and also 18 of the 23 disputed governorates have already been awarded. In several of these the difference was meager – close to 1% – and in others the advantage of the official candidate who marches in front in the ballots is so small that it forces us to wait until the last vote to declare a winner, said Roberto Picón, one of the five directors of the CNE.

The winner remains to be defined as governor in the states of Apure and Barinas.

In the state of Miranda, a neighbor of Caracas and of high strategic value for the opposing sides, the current pro-government governor Héctor Rodríguez achieved re-election with more than 396,192 votes, which so far represents 48.19%, 60,684 more than his closest contender , the opponent David Uzcategui. The sum of the votes, among candidates other than the official alliance, together exceed the votes in favor of Rodríguez, a close collaborator of Maduro.

The opposition parties, meanwhile, triumphed in the elections to elect governors in the central state of Cojedes (MUD), the insular state of Nueva Esparta (Fuerza Vecinal) and Zulia, an oil state where the former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales (UNT) adds 56 , 13%, 21.54 percentage points more than the current official governor, Omar Prieto. Essentially the opposition vote was dispersed among various options. At its best, the opposition conquered, participating as a bloc, six governorships and 76 mayoralties in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

Also in unity in 2015, the opposition overwhelmingly won the National Assembly, which it lost five years later in an election in which it decided not to participate.

The CNE announced that 322 of the 335 mayors were awarded, 205 of them to the ruling party, 59 to the opposition alliance MUD and 58 to other parties and alliances of adversaries to the Maduro government.

The dilemma of the opposition parties to participate or not “has consumed much of the time that could have been devoted to other tasks, more than normal electoral campaigns” and the fundamental diatribe on which many voters are debating that adversely affects Maduro “is whether to vote or not vote, “said Carmen Beatriz Fernández, political analyst and professor at the University of Navarra, in statements to the foreign press. An analyst such as Fernández places the electoral base of the ruling party between 20% and 25%.

The opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who in the last three years actively promoted the boycott and who in August left the door open for participation in his MUD alliance, asked the opposition leadership not to succumb to the temptation to distribute blame for Sunday’s results. , at the same time that he exhorted them to reflect on the message emitted by voters adverse to the government and to work in unity. “I stand up and take responsibility. It is not a time of fights between parties, egos of political leaderships, it is a time of reflection and unity for the Venezuelans and for them, ”Guaidó said at a press conference on Monday.

The ruling party, which controls almost all the institutions (mayors, governorships and the National Assembly), was the favorite to take over most of the positions. Among more than 70,200 candidates, 3,082 positions will be chosen, including 23 governors, 335 mayors, 253 legislators from state councils and 2,471 municipal councilors.

The opposition is prostrate as a result of internal fractures, caused to a large extent by the failed attempts to evict Chávez’s heirs from power, who have dominated the political scene since 1999 despite having the support of Washington, which came with severe sanctions. to put Maduro on the ropes, depriving him of the main sources of income.

International pressure was not able to destabilize the Maduro administration, much less undermine the support of the armed forces, which have traditionally been the arbiters of political disputes in Venezuela. The debacle and loss of support from many critics of the government was a consequence of the confrontation of positions to achieve that end, from using force to insisting on political change through electoral channels.

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