Maduro allies win majority in Venezuelan congress

8 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

CARACAS: Allies of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday won a majority of seats in parliament after scant participation in an election that the opposition boycotted, saying it was a farce meant to consolidate a dictatorship, reports Reuters.

The elections council said that 67.6 percent of the 5.2 million votes cast in Sunday’s election went to an alliance of parties called the Great Patriotic Pole that backs Maduro - but that only 31 percent of eligible voters participated.

Voting centres were left barren in an embarrassment to the ruling Socialist Party, but the results nonetheless return congress to Maduro’s control despite an economy in tatters, an aggressive US sanctions programme, and a mass migration exodus.

“Venezuela already has a new national assembly,” Maduro said, in television remarks that were muted in comparison with his frequent triumphalism. “A great victory, without a doubt.”

Elections council chief Indira Alfonzo did not specify how many of the 277 seats would go to Maduro allies, and only named a handful of victorious candidates including Cilia Flores, the First Lady, and Diosdado Cabello, vice president of the Socialist Party.

Alfonzo said 17.95 percent of the votes went to parties who have described themselves as Maduro adversaries, but are widely suspected of being Maduro’s shadow allies. The results were based on 82 percent of votes counted.

Earlier in the year, the top court had put several opposition parties in the hands of politicians expelled from those same parties for alleged links to Maduro - one of the major reasons the opposition had called the vote a sham.

The elections council was also named without the opposition’s participation, and Maduro had refused to allow meaningful electoral observation.

“After the blackmail, the kidnapping of parties, censorship, fabrication of results, sowing terror, they announce what we have been saying - a fraud with 30 percent,” opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of the current congress, wrote on Twitter.

The United States and many Western nations have said they will not recognize the results of the vote.

“What’s happening today is a fraud and a sham, not an election,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

The opposition is calling on sympathizers to participate in a Dec 12 consultation that will ask citizens whether they reject the results and want a change of government.

Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries including the United States as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president, after most Western nations disavowed Maduro’s 2018 re-election as fraudulent.