Caracas (dpa) – President Nicolás Maduro claimed victory for the socialists in the legislative elections in Venezuela. “Venezuela has a new National Assembly for the period from 2021 to 2026.
A great victory – without a doubt – of democracy, ” he said in a video published on his Twitter account after the election results were announced by the election office on Monday evening (local time).
According to the authority, the alliance of Maduro’s ruling party PSUV reached 67.6 percent in elections on Sunday. The office announced on Twitter. The opposition parties received about 31 percent of the vote in total. The people voted, Maduro said. It was a “big decision” and a “good election day”.
“The dictatorship is clear,” self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó wrote on Twitter, denouncing electoral fraud. “We all know the results were known in advance,” Guaidó said in a video he published on Twitter.
A victory for the socialists would mean the loss of the last state institution in the South American country to the opposition. Without a majority in the National Assembly, Guaidó’s legitimacy is likely to be called into question.
Large sections of the opposition had boycotted the vote and justified it with expected fraud. The Organization of American States (OAS) had already stated in advance that the conditions for free and fair elections were not in place.
According to the opposition, numerous Venezuelans have followed their call for boycotts. Voter turnout was under 20 percent, said National Assembly deputy chairman Juan Pablo Guanipa. According to preliminary information from the electoral office, the turnout was around 31 percent. The authority had extended the opening hours of the polling stations by one hour in the evening. More than 20 million Venezuelans were called to vote for the 277 members of the National Assembly.
Maduro had previously asked the international community to accept the election results. “We respect people’s right to self-determination,” he wrote on Twitter. “We demand respect for the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people.”
There was also criticism from the foreign minister of Guaidó’s counter-government, Julio Borges. “The elections are a fraud by the dictatorship led by Nicolás Maduro and will only exacerbate the crisis in the country,” he wrote in an open letter to the international community published Sunday. “What Venezuela needs is free presidential and parliamentary elections.”
Venezuela is in a deep crisis. Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president in early 2019 and was recognized by numerous countries – including Germany and the US – as a legitimate head of state. However, he has not yet managed to defend himself against Maduro. The authoritarian ruling head of state is supported by the powerful army in the power struggle. An attempt by a mercenary to bring about an armed overthrow has failed. The United Nations accuses the security forces of serious human rights violations.
While Guaidó had initially managed to unite the opposition behind him, the rifts between moderate opponents of the government and hardliners re-emerged with persistent failure. With the victory of his socialists in the parliamentary elections, Maduro has now regained control of all major state powers.
Meanwhile, the once rich country is plunging deeper into a humanitarian crisis. Due to lack of foreign currency and numerous sanctions, it can barely import food, medicines and daily necessities. Even gasoline is now in short supply in the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. In the summer, the United States seized several tankloads of fuel from Iran for Venezuela and imposed sanctions on shipping companies that supplied Venezuela. According to a study by the Catholic University of Andrés Bello, 96 percent of households live in poverty. Millions of Venezuelans have left their homes.