Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is being accused of fraud after the socialist party surprisingly won 17 out of the 23 state governorships in the country’s regional election this Sunday.
The opposition leaders believe that Maduro intervened and are demanding a complete audit. Polls prior to the election predicted that the opposition would win by a landslide.
“A survey before Sunday’s vote had given the opposition 44.7 percent of voter intentions, compared to 21.1 percent for the government — close to Maduro’s own approval rating of 23 percent,” writes NBC News. “The opposition’s five victories included the restive Andean states of Merida and Tachira, as well as the oil-producing region of Zulia.”
The five wins by the opposition was still an increase from the 2012 regional elections, but it was much less than the 18-19 seats that were expected.
The Campaign Director of the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition Gerardo Blyd doubts Sunday’s results and said that “neither Venezuelans nor the world will swallow this fiction.”
Venezuelans have made it clear that they are unhappy with Maduro’s leadership. The living conditions in Venezuela have gradually become more disastrous. Inflation is out of control, grocery stores are empty, and businesses and factories have had to close down.
The dire state of the country has forced thousands to seek refuge in Colombia.
“Widespread dissatisfaction with President Nicolás Maduro’s ruling party was plain to see. Violent demonstrations had taken over the streets for months, while many thousands of Venezuelans had fled the country to escape scarcities of food and medicine, rampant violence and a triple-digit inflation,” writes the New York Times.
The results of the election were alarming and even foreign analysts believe that Venezuela’s electoral system was rigged.
“The result is another sham,” said Nicholas Watson, senior vice president of Teneo Intelligence, a business consultancy. He pointed out it was “simply implausible” that the opposition would lose in stronghold states like Miranda and Barinas.
José Ignacio Hernández, a law professor at Central University of Venezuela, expressed similar sentiments and said that Sunday’s results were “statistically unlikely.” But he also said it won’t be easy to prove that the results were compromised.
“The problem is proving it,” said Ignacio Hernández. “The declared results are not rational. Among other factors, I think there was manipulation.”
61 percent of voters participated in Sunday’s election, which was a massive turnout.
Before the pro-government election board announced the results, the opposition expressed doubts in the system.
“We have serious suspicions and doubts,” said Blyde.
Occurrences of fraud seem to be common in Venezuela’s elections.
“The election board used a different company for Sunday’s vote machines after its former partner, London-based Smartmatic, accused it of manipulating a July election for a new legislative superbody by at least 1 million votes,” writes NBC News.
While what seems to be the majority of the country was outraged by the results, Maduro was quick to celebrate that the Socialist Party is alive and well.
“‘Chavismo’ is alive, in the street and triumphant,” said Maduro.
Author’s note: This was obviously the result of fraud. Will this be the last straw for Venezuelans?