Venezuela’s Incumbent President Wins in Boycotted Election
President Nicolas Maduro has seized total control of Venezuela’s political institutions with a sweeping victory in legislative elections that were boycotted by the main opposition parties.
Maduro and his left-wing allies won 67.7 percent of the vote with more than 80 percent of ballots counted, while the opposition bloc which broke the boycott had 18 percent, National Electoral Council president Indira Alfonzo said late on Sunday. Turnout was low with 69 percent abstaining.
Sunday’s predictable triumph gives Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party control of an expanded 227-seat National Assembly, the only official body held by the opposition. The win gives Maduro control of the last chief branch of government outside his grasp.
“We have recovered the National Assembly with the majority vote of the Venezuelan people,” Maduro The National Assembly had been led by the United States-backed politician Juan Guaido, who has pressed to overthrow Maduro for nearly two years.
The US has been leading the pressure to remove Maduro with economic sanctions, including an oil embargo in force since April 2019.
Guaido’s opposition movement is holding its own referendum over several days immediately after the election. It will ask Venezuelans whether they want to end Maduro’s rule and hold new presidential elections. “Although I cannot promise a magic solution today, I can tell you with certainty and security: You are not alone. We will not give up,” Guaido said in a video message. “We are going to give everything until we win.”
But an initial enthusiasm that greeted Guaido’s push for power has waned, and critics see his plebiscite ploy as a desperate gamble.