Elections in Venezuela: When fraud is a habit, it’s the people who suffer
18 years of chavism, a nonexistent transition and four months of struggle have not been enough for Venezuela to show signs of recovery. Last Sunday's regional elections are the last bloc that buried democracy in Venezuela.
Hunger, lack of supplies, poverty and crime are the bread-and-butter of a Venezuela that, after a weak truce, underwent regional elections last Sunday.
The results? A once-again “crushing” chavism, that owned 17 governorships of the 23 existing in the country.
The headlines of the world describe it as "a broad triumph" (BBC), "chavismo won" (El Clarín), "a sharp triumph" (El Nacional), but the question that holds them is the same: What will happen now in Venezuela?
According to data released by the National Electoral Council (CNE), the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (better known as the PSUV, a party that has supported Chavism during the last decade) has surpassed the opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) by 17 to 5, taking control of the majority of the governorates of the country, which would suppose the legitimacy of the regime of Nicolas Maduro, condemned by the international diplomacy like an established dictatorship.
"It's a clear victory. Chavism swept through the elections," President Nicolás Maduro said within minutes of the results being known.
The 61.14% turnout has been one of the highest recorded in regional elections, according to the BBC.
Hours before the announcement of the CNE, the opposition had a "gigantic victory" that, once again, turned out to be a weak hope. "We do not recognize the results announced by the CNE," said MUD spokesman Gerardo Blyde, who said that the data that the coalition had prior to the CNE's statements did not correspond with the official results.
"They know they are not the majority. The country and the international community also know this," he said, adding at the same time that the opposition would request a full audit of the whole process.
"Neither Venezuela nor the world believe the story they threw us out," said the spokesman, echoing the lack of legitimacy that the Venezuelan electoral body has, especially after the fraud declared in the July 30 elections, where one National Constituent Assembly was "elected" with 8,089,320 votes.
"We are in a very serious moment for the country, before an electoral system that does not generate confidence and that is considered to be transparent only by a few," continued Blyde.
According to El Clarín, the MUD's arguments for not knowing the results would be based on several "violations of the law committed during the process," including the closure of several polling centers, candidate replacement and relocation of 274 polling stations, which "affected more than 700,000 citizens."
The director of Datanálisis (Venezuelan market research consultant), Luis vicente León, assured this, according to Infobae.
"The result presented by the CNE is the worst scenario for the country, for the opposition and, paradoxically, for Chavism," he said, explaining nine reasons:
- The chances of the results being recognized by the opposition, the international community and the Venezuelan people are very low.
- The channel of dialogue and political negotiation between the government and the opposition is broken.
- The opposition radical wing will be strengthened, which will increase the fight in the streets.
- The position of the international community vis-à-vis the government will harden, thereby increasing the risk of sanctions.
- Conflict risks reduce foreign investment in the country.
- Internal consolidation becomes almost impossible.
- The outlook for economic bailouts is blacked out, demeaning the nation's worst isolation.
- Government policy to be radicalized
- And the isolation of this radicalization - with its deterioration and "primitiveness" - will not favor the exit of the government.
Also, according to the BBC, León anticipates that the consequences could be summarized as "a complaint of fraud, a call for a fight other than electoral, the sharpening of sanctions from the United States and also from Europe and the possible negotiations will be affected".
The Venezuelan economic scenario is, perish the thought, much worse now. Only last week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised and published its estimates of the country, projecting inflation of 2300% by 2018 (the largest in the world by a large margin) and a fall in Gross Domestic Product of 12% in 2017 and 6% next year.
With 18 years of Chavism, the failure is attributed by Venezuelans to the lack of organization of the opposition and the absence of a sustainable political battle line.