Opposition supporters flocked into voting centres across the country today to vote in the primaries for the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD)’s bid for the gubernatorial elections scheduled to take place in September. The primary elections, which are conducted to determine which opposition candidates will run against the PSUV in next month’s elections, were expected to draw out as many as 10% of all registered voters in the country.
Voters cast their ballots in 19 out of the country’s 24 states for a total of 57 gubernatorial hopefuls. The five remaining states–Vargas, Carabobo, Nueva Esparta and Anzoategui–did not hold a primary election today because the MUD appointed candidates there.
Out of the MUD’s constituent parties, Primero Justicia (PJ) ran the most candidates today (15), followed by Accion Democratica (AD) with 12, Voluntad Popular (VP) with 10, Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) with 7, and Avanzada Progregista (AP)with 6.
The head of the AD party, Henry Ramos Allup, said during a press conference in the mid-afternoon that voter turnout was higher than the MUD had expected. Without providing much detail, Allup also said that the high voter turnout had resulted in some voting centres running out of electoral materials.
Below, images of today’s MUD primary vote from around the country:
San Cristobal, Tachira state:
Los Teques, Miranda state:
Guarenas, Miranda state:
Somewhere in Barinas state:
The date for the gubernatorial elections has not yet been announced, but the vote is scheduled to take place some time in October.
The results of today’s primary vote will be revealed in the coming days.
Primary Vote a Test of Opposition Resolve
The MUD’s announcement that it would participate in the regional elections threatened to tear the opposition coalition apart. After three months of deadly protests, some in the opposition viewed participating in the regional elections as futile, specially after the Maduro regime proved that it was willing to commit blatant fraud during electoral processes in the July 31 Constituent Assembly vote.
Such was the intensity of the debate within the MUD that two of its constituent parties–Vente Venezuela and Alianza Bravo Pueblo—left the bloc over the matter.
Angel Oropeza, a MUD national coordinator, told reporters today about the importance of participating in the elections from the bloc’s perspective. Oropeza explained:
How do we stand up to Maduro: with 23 governorships in his hands, or in the opposition’s hands? (…) One way of moving forward is to turn the governorships into sites of struggle.
Oropeza’s comments echo those of other opposition leaders, who have argued for fighting against the Maduro regime on every available stage.
Maduro Calls for World Without Violence, Empires
Speaking at the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Astana, Kazakhstan, Maduro laid out his vision for a future world without conflict and empires. Maduro said:
From revolutionary and Bolivarian Venezuela, we believe profoundly that this is a time for dialogue, a deep dialogue between cultures, civilizations and religions.
The time has come to fight for another world. The time to fight for a world without wars, without terrorism, without hegemonic empires has come.
Maduro also called for closer cooperation between the OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which is a group established in 1961 made up of countries that were not formally aligned with either NATO or the Eastern bloc. Citing what he believes to be both organizations’ commitment to “the rejection of threats or the use of force” against other nations, Maduro said that the OIC and the NAM are in a unique position to join forces “to advance these objectives of justice and peace”.
During his trip to Kazakhstan, Maduro has so far met with Turkey’s Recep Erdogan and Iran’s Hasan Rohani.
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