Venezuelans continued to reel from last night’s shocking electoral victory that saw the PSUV handed the greatest defeat in its history. The head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral, Tibisay Lucena, announced last night at midnight that the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica opposition bloc had won 99 of the National Assembly’s 167 seats versus the PSUV’s 46, with 22 seats left undecided.
Even in the unlikely event that the PSUV picks up all 22 of the undecided seats, the opposition would still have enough seats for a simple majority, giving it control of the country’s legislative assembly.
The far more likely scenario is that the opposition will win enough of the undecided seats to push it over the 3/5 majority threshold at 100 seats, granting it more legislative muscle than it would have with a simple majority. The opposition would need to win 14 of the undecided seats to give it a 2/3 majority in the assembly, a scenario in which the bloc would have complete control of virtually all legislative matters in the country. In such a scenario, the opposition could even call a constitutive assembly to draft a new constitution.
The head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, spoke on the victory, saying:
Today is a historic day that warrants reflection. We’ve been divided for years, and the country has not won anything through that division (…) the vote managed to democratically defeat a government that is not democratic.
The opposition bloc has said numerous times in the past that its first move in the National Assembly will be to pass an amnesty law that will see the country’s political prisoners – most notably Voluntad Popular leader Leopoldo Lopez – freed from prison.
Opposition 100% Sure It Won 112 Seats
Just after noon local time, the head of the Un Nuevo Tiempo opposition party, Enrique Marquez, said that the MUD had won 112 seats. He cited the bloc’s internal figures, and although the CNE has yet to make the results official, he suggested that the result was beyond dispute.
Win Sees Stunning Reversals Throughout the Country
According to internal figures from the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), the opposition won a majority of votes in all but six of the country’s 23 states. The PSUV won with most of the votes only in Sucre, Delta Amacuro, Guarico, Cojedes and Apure. The MUD claims that it won 68% of the vote versus the PSUV’s 32%.
The opposition swept traditional many PSUV bastions. It swept Barinas, Hugo Chavez’s home state. The opposition won the state with 75.68% of the votes.
Nine of the too-close-to-call circuits are also PSUV strongholds. El Nacional reports that the PSUV won in five of those districts by more than 25% in the last five elections. The fact that the CNE was unable to declare a definitive winner in this districts means that the opposition managed to erase – or possibly even overcome – those historic leads.
Voluntad Popular‘s Freddy Guevara also announced that the opposition win in Catia, Maturin and in Vargas state, all traditional PSUV districts.
Perhaps most telling of the Venezuelan people’s loud rejection of the PSUV is the fact that the opposition won in the 23 de Enero district of Caracas. There, opposition candidate Jorge Millan won 24,377 votes (48.75%) to PSUV candidate’s Zulay Aguirre, who received 24,277 votes (48.55%).
Millan easily won in in voting center at the Escuela Tecnica Manuel Antonio Fajardo, the very same where Chavez used to vote. Millian won 51.74% of the votes for the opposition there.
Influential Pro-PSUV Website Calls for Cabello, Maduro to Resign
Aporrea.org, an influential pro-PSUV website, published an opinion piece today in which it calls for the resignation of both Maduro and Cabello following the PSUV’s dramatic defeat.
The article’s author, Javier Antonio Santana, argues that the opposition’s win last night “is not only a parliamentary victory”. Santana called Maduro’s way of governing – through the handing out of free goods and services for votes – an “aberration”, and called for the new National Assembly to ban the practice during electoral campaigns.
Santana’s critique of Maduro and was scathing:
Maduro has to understand that these contemporary times call for a President who looks for solutions to the country’s problems. Because of this, he cannot continue to be “the chief” of the PSUV, and neither can Cabello be it’s second-in-command as part of a nefarious leadership of the party. “Realpolitik” makes it clear that Cabello will become Vice-President of the Republic. As a result, it is possible that spaces for dialogue and understanding – instead of growing larger – will shrink. (…) this would be very sad for Venezuela.
Maduro and Cabello must resign!
Maduro Concedes Defeat 6 Hours After Polls Closed
While polls were originally scheduled to close at 6:00 PM local time, CNE rector Sandra Oblitas made a surprise announcement shortly after the hour that polls would remain open until 7:00 PM. The next time the CNE spoke was at midnight when it announced the preliminary results, leaving the country in a state of limbo as the body went into silence.
Maduro addressed the nation moments after the results were announced in a bizarre concession speech with angry and conspiratorial undertones:
I could say today that the economic war has won, [which was] a strategy to weaken that country’s collective trust. This is a policy that was created by savage capitalism in an unprecedented economic war (…) For now, the terror of the economic war has restrained a certain percentage [of voters].
Maduro appeared to congratulate the opposition for its win when he said “greetings to all Venezuelans who voted for the opposition”, but later summarized the results by saying:
The opposition has not won in Venezuela today. Rather, a counter-revolution at the gates as won (…) a counter-revolution has created its war and obtained a majority in the National Assembly.
Despite the fiery rhetoric, Maduro did eventually and unequivocally announce his acceptance of the results. Below, a clip of Maduro’s concession, along with my translation:
Maduro: Seeing these results, we’ve come with our morals and our ethics to recognize these adverse results, to accept the, and to tell Venezuelans, “The constitution and democracy have won”. We accept them! We accept them exactly as they’ve been announced by the electoral body.
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello reacted on twitter to the defeat, saying:
We fully recognize the results of these elections. We give our eternal gratitude to our revolutionary people. The homeland is the way.
Nobody said it would be easy. Let this electoral defeat strengthen us to continue down the Bolivarian and Chavista revolution.
Cabello made more comments on the PSUV’s monumental defeat earlier today, saying:
It was painful and sad to lose our eternal commander. Losing an election is just a stumble. We must learn from our mistakes and move on. In difficult times, we raise the flag of Bolivar and Chavez so that we may learn from them. We are irreducibly Bolivarian and Chavista.
22 Seats Still Undecided; Opp. Claims 14 More
When CNE head Tibisay Lucena announced the election’s results last night, she highlighted the fact that 22 districts had races that were too close to call. Prior to her announcement, the MUD had strongly suggested through social media and its YouTube live stream that their internal figures showed they had won 113 seats.
The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Jesus Torrealba, hinted that the numbers do not look good for the PSUV, and that they lean towards “a thunderous defeat” for the PSUV.
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