Latin America

President Nicolas Maduro's ruling party sweeps regional vote in Venezuela

Published : November 22, 2021 15:22 IST

Venezuela's regional elections are facing close international scrutiny. Photo: Ariana Cubillos/AP Photo/picture alliance

Maduro's party won several governor posts in elections, held for the first time in four years.

Venezuelan opposition parties ended their four-year election boycott and took part in a myriad of regional elections on November 21. But despite the return of opposition, President Nicolas Maduro's leftist ruling party swept elections, winning 20 governor posts, according to Venezuela's National Electoral Council. The opposition won the remaining three posts, it added. The voter turnout was around 41.8 per cent, according to an intial announcement by the electoral council.

Elections held under watchful eyes

Over 130 international observers were present, mainly from the European Union, amid assurances from President Nicolas Maduro's government to the opposition that the elections will be free and fair. The move comes as Caracas seeks to thaw its relations with the US and other countries through shows of goodwill. The South American country is facing an ongoing economic crisis and crippling international sanctions.

Why is Venezuela making democratic concessions?

Maduro's leftist government — which is not recognized as legitimate in Washington — is hoping that some of the hundreds of millions of dollars it has stored abroad will be unfrozen. It also wants to be able to sell its oil more easily, especially to the U.S., which has historically been its main buyer, and to end the limitations on its imports.

To do so, Caracas has made some concessions, including inviting E.U. observers for the first time in 15 years. However, the governing socialist party is expected to hold onto its political dominance. Observers said that the opposition looks likely to win in just six of the country's 23 states.

What has been happening with the opposition?

Some 23 state governorships, as well as positions for mayor and city council members, were up for grabs on November 21. Henrique Capriles, a former presidential candidate who lost to Hugo Chavez in 2012 and Maduro a year later, said that the opposition will likely be held back by their division. Juan Guaido, recognized as the legitimate president by the U.S. and some 50 other countries — but no longer by the E.U. — called on the opposition to "unify the struggle." However, he said he was not planning on casting a vote on November 21.

"What we are going to see is a fight for second place because second place will symbolically mean which opposition should be stopped more, that will have a weight,'' Felix Seijas, director of the statistical research firm Delphos, told The Associated Press.

ab/rs (AP, AFP)

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