The leadership of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) and its millions of supporters awoke in a state of stunned disbelief tomorrow, reeling from the shocking results of yesterday’s gubernatorial election. Defying months of public opinion polls, the ruling PSUV party managed to win an impressive 18 governorships to the MUD’s five. The MUD’s anemic performance vastly undershot expectations.
The PSUV’s impressive victory resulted in the party winning 75% of the states in Venezuela with 54% of ballots cast. The results came as a shock to many, partially because of the consistently low popularity numbers for both the PSUV and Maduro, which have hovered at an approval rating of approximately 20%-30% for the past two years.
Just moments before the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) announced the official results, the MUD warned that official figures did not match those obtained by election observers. That announcement came from the MUD’s electoral campaign chief, Gerardo Blyde, who warned the country by saying:
We have information regarding suspicious results that the CNE is going to announce (…) we have serious suspicions and doubts about the results that will be announced in a few minutes.
The head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, appeared on television screens across the country not long as Blyde’s comments, an announced the PSUV’s monumental victory.
The CNE claims that the election had a 61.4% participation rate, higher than the 54% recorded in the 2012 regional elections. The official elections results can be found here.
Delcy Rodriguez, the president of the National Constituent Assembly, said today that the winners of yesterday’s vote would be sworn in before the body during a ceremony tomorrow. The move is likely to be contested by the MUD winners, since the opposition considers the Constituent Assembly to be an illegitimate body given that it is widely understood to have been elected via fraud.
MUD Calls Foul Over Fraud, Demands Full Audit
At approximately 11:30 PM local time–roughly one hour after the election results were announced–Blyde held a press conference alongside other opposition leaders on the day’s events. Blyde began by saying that the opposition “does not recognize the results announced by the CNE”, and the CNE had taken active steps to “stop Venezuelans from voting freely”.
In a lackluster conference that lasted mere minutes, Blyde hinted that the opposition would now consider “street action” to protest the vote, but provided no details.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this afternoon, Carlos Ocariz–the mayor of the Sucre municipality–in which he attempted to explain that the fraud committed by the Maduro regime did not involve simply stuffing ballots, but was rather the result of a number of individual factors.
Ocariz, who lost in Miranda state, provided a glimpse of the chaos that the opposition
We have all of the paperwork [to confirm the number of votes cast], but it’s not about the paperwork because it goes much further than that (…) In 403 out of the 1118 voting centres they were not able to contact the [election] observers because they blocked the telephone lines. And in those 403 centres that lost contact, 141 registered the highest turnout in their history, reaching a rate of 90%.
Ocariz also reminded reporters that four different polling firms coincided in giving him a 9 point lead over his competitor, Hector Rodriguez, leading up to the election.
According to the CNE’s figures, Rodriguez beat Ocariz by nearly 7 points.
At a press conference this evening, the MUD formally requested that the CNE conduct at a “full audit, quantitative and qualitative” of the election.
MUD: 90,537 Opposition Votes Thrown Out
During the same evening press conference, the MUD stressed that the matter of the electoral fraud was not simply ballot stuffing, but rather the accumulated effect of a host of institutionalized disadvantages built into the electoral system.
For example, the MUD argued that at least 90,537 nullified votes were meant to go to opposition candidates, but instead were thrown out by the CNE because of issues with the ballot.
Liliana Hernandez, who forms part of the MUD leadership, said:
This was a fraudulent process [that involved] assisted voting and other irregularities that prevent the paperwork from reflecting the true results.
Maduro Overjoyed by Victory
Speaking from a victory celebration at the Miraflores Palace late last night, Maduro expressed his joy at his party’s victory, calling it a victory for democracy in the country.
More than 10 million voters went out to tell the world that in Venezuela there is a democracy (…) they told the world that they want peace and a fatherland.
Cabello: Opposition “Stupid” For Getting Tricked
PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello spoke on the results of the gubernatorial election today, and made some questionable remarks regarding the opposition’s participation in the process.
Speaking during a press conference, Cabello mocked the opposition for–as he put it–allowing itself to be tricked by the PSUV. On the MUD’s allegations that the vote was fraudulent, Cabello said:
They [the opposition] participated in all of the auditing processes beforehand: the audits, the distribution of the machines. They had their witnesses. Well, forgive me for saying this but they’re really stupid for letting themselves get tricked. How is it that they participated in everything, and now they say that we cheated?
The MUD had in fact been denouncing for weeks that–as it has in previous elections–that the country’s electoral system is biased in favour of the PSUV, and has institutionalized voter intimidation and suppression.
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