By Saihaj Jaspal | Contributor
Nicolas Maduro has announced a victory in Venezuela’s legislative elections after they were boycotted by the main opposition parties due to allegations of corruption aimed at Maduro’s presidency and the electoral authorities.
The boycott was led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, speaker of the National Assembly who with support from the Assembly and a stipulation within the Venezuelan constitution, swore himself in as Interim President in January 2019. The decision from the opposition to boycott the elections comes after Guaido’s claims that the elections would be “neither free nor fair” because the National Electoral Council is controlled by Maduro’s PSUV party (United Socialist Party of Venezuela).Nicolas Maduro has announced a victory in Venezuela’s legislative elections after they were boycotted by the main opposition parties due to allegations of corruption aimed at Maduro’s presidency and the electoral authorities.
With over 80% of votes counted, Maduro’s coalition had 67.6% of the vote according to the National Electoral Council, voter turnout was recorded at only 31%. However, Maduro’s party and his allies will now control the National Assembly which since 2015 has been in opposition hands. This now gives Maduro complete control of Venezuela’s political institutions.
The National Assembly is responsible for passing laws and approving Government budgets. It is the only key political institution that Maduro does not control (Maduro’s government controls the judiciary, electoral authorities, and the military). In the past few years, it has acted as the only vehicle in which government power is checked, but this will change when the new Maduro loyalist lawmakers are sworn in on 5 January 2021.
The chaos surrounding the Venezuelan political system reflects the nation’s current economic state.
Since Hugo Chavez first became President in 1999 twenty years of revolutionary socialist rule have gone by and Venezuela’s once-wealthy oil economy has collapsed. The Venezuelan people are suffering acute shortages of water, fuel, and electricity. Inflation is at more than 6,000 per cent and the currency, the Bolívar, is virtually worthless.
This has led to the mass migration of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries such as, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and many moving further South to Brazil. According to figures compiled by the United Nations, more than 5 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2014. However, the government dispute these figures and say that they have been inflated by “enemy countries”.
Venezuela’s political situation is not limited in its significance to the nation itself or even South America. It continues to have a worldwide impact, with some nations supporting Nicolas Maduro and some backing Juan Guaidó. More than 50 states recognise Mr Guaidó as the legitimate president, among them the UK, US, and many nations in Latin America. However, other states such as Russia, China, Turkey, and Cuba have pledged their support to Maduro and his ruling party.
The contentious diplomatic relations between Maduro’s government and the US have caused significant damage to the country’s economy. The US, which supports Mr Guaidó, imposed sanctions on Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela’s oil industry, making it increasingly difficult to get fuel. The US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector have crippled the key industry, which provides almost all of Venezuela’s government revenue. The US government’s stance on Maduro and the results of the election were highlighted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tweets last Sunday. He said,
“Venezuela’s electoral fraud has already been committed. The results announced by the illegitimate Maduro regime will not reflect the will of the Venezuelan people. What’s happening today is a fraud and a sham, not an election.”
A sense of resignation lingers amongst the Venezuelan population. A lack of confidence in the political system that has failed them in the past few years. The low numbers of voters who turned out for the elections symbolise this disillusionment. Whilst Guaidó has promised a fair popular consultation as an alternative to the elections, many do not believe that anything will come of it. The elections that were hoped to offer some clarity over the future of Venezuela has offered nothing but added uncertainty.
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