Contributed by Joe Montero
When Venezuelan voted at their municipal elections on 21 November, 72,344 candidates stood for a little over 3,000 positions to be elected as governors. majors and local government representatives. Most, 67,162 of them, run in opposition to the government. A list of 111 political parties and the group around the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido took part. Although the 41.8 percent voter turnout could have been better, it was still more than in other recent elections higher than it is in many other countries.
Photo by Leonard Fernandez Liloria/Reuters: Lining up to vote outside a polling station in Caracas the capital of Venezuela
The results have come in and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won easily, taking all but two regional governments and 20 out of 23 governor positions. If the capital is included, this is 21 out of 24.
It as the opposition that took a thrashing and barely maintained their traditional strongholds.
The governing party and Maduro led government have achieved a new level of legitimacy, which will be hard for its opponents to deny. This puts them in a stronger place to continue program for change.
With around 6.5 million members in a population of around 30 million the PSUV was always likely to win. But its opponents had hoped that the victory would not be so overwhelming.
Furthermore, the PSUV is leads the Gran Polo Patriotico, which translates into the Great Patriotic Pole. The Pole has brought a group of political parties under a united alliance to preserve the right of sovereignty and self-determination for the nation.
Below is a map hat shows gives a nationwide view of the new political division. The opposition has traditionally controlled Zulia in the northeast corner. This region has long been under the influence of Colombia and isolated from the rest of Venezuela. The other region in the hands of the opposition is Cojedes, which is closer to Caracas the capital.
The United States and a handful of other nations, including Australia have long claimed that elections in Venezuela are faked. Contradicting this is that independent foreign observers have always called it differently. And Venezuela has gone to the polls 29 times in 22 years. This must be a world record.
This time the 300 strong the international observer team, representing 55 countries, was bigger, and 130 of then were from the European Union. Together, they scrutinised every aspect of the election process, form preparation before the vote, ensured voting was carried out properly, and watched over the counting of ballots. The voting process was computerised and backed by a paper printout for the voter. This means that a paper trail as created as a double check.
The report from the international observer team after the voting, declared that the election process has been carried out properly.
For the opponents of the Chavista movement and the PSUV, the real problem is not the process but what the majority are consistently voting for. This is a bottom-up democratic socialism suitable to Venezuela’s conditions. It means the rise of a new power giving authority to communities.
These elections were about protecting the nation’s sovereignty, and they were also about progress towards a political and electoral system where workers, women, youth, indigenous people, farmers, business owners, the gay community, and others participate in communities and vote for their representatives to go into the political institutions.
The opposition has consistently branded this as anti-democratic. Their claim is that it takes authority from politicians. I have visited and travelled through the country twice and have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people. I even attended meetings of local communes. Most don’t agree that the change is anti-democratic. They want to have their voices heard and the power to build a new future that advances their lives, provides new opportunities, and ends control by a wealthy elite once and for all.
By opposing Venezuela’s election processes and denying the results, the United States and its allies are protecting the old elite of big landowners, American oil companies, and corrupt politicians. They are chasing the 80 percent of the known existing reserves of black gold on Venezuelan territory.
Most of the support for the opposition is in the richest neighbourhoods, where here is an interest in restoring the privileges of the traditional elite. The wealthiest part of Venezuela fears losing wealth and social status. There is also the Catholic Church hierarchy, working on its believers to accept that opposing the Chavistas is a Christian duty.
Opposition groups that boycotted recent elections participated in this one for three reasons. Boycotting has failed and the self-declared president Juan Guaido has almost zero support inside the country. A section of the opposition genuinely believes that ensuring the future is decided by Venezuelans is too important to be buried by political differences and outside interference.
Video from TeleSUR English
Some in the opposition are already crying foul. Some of the voting centres were kept open for a little while. The rules stipulated that this could be done if people were still lining up to vote. This looks more like desperation than a genuine claim.
The challenge for the PSUV and the Gran Polo is that section of the population that did not vote. Some would have had difficulty getting to the voting centres. There are those who once supported the opposition and have now ben alienated but not won over by the government of Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions that have deprived the population of food and medicines, economic problems, and the Covid pandemic will have had an impact.
How to answer these challenges is sure to be a hot political debate.
The United States has not yet commented on the result.