Venezuelan opposition wins majority in legislative vote

Venezuela’s opposition gains control of National Assembly in parliamentary elections for first time in 16 years

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015

The Venezuelan opposition won the parliamentary elections on Sunday, ending the ruling Socialist Party majority in the legislature after 16 years.

Country’s election board announced the opposition Democratic Unity coalition won 99 of 167 seats in the National Assembly while the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) of President Nicolas Maduro won only 46 while 22 seats are still to be decided.

Opposition leaders say they will secure 113 seats when all the results are reported.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles tweeted “The results are as we hoped. Venezuela has won. It's irreversible,” following the results.

President Nicolas Maduro also acknowledged the victory of the opposition saying “We are here, with morals and ethics, to recognise these adverse results,” saying in a speech in capital Caracas.

Supporters of the opposition took to the streets and celebrated the victory with fireworks.

The results give the opposition the chance to create a stronger platform to challenge Maduro, who was hand picked by Hugo Chavez to succeed him after his death in 2013.  

Chavez came to power in 1999 and led the country until his death, winning elections with majority votes, which benefitted the economy due to high oil prices. 

However, a recent slump in oil prices dragged the country into an economic crisis as inflation rose greatly and the economy was affected negatively.

“How can I carry on when my salary doesn't allow me to feed my children? They deceived us,” said Rodrigo Duran, who was a supporter of Hugo Chavez but voted for opposition in this election.

Supporters of the opposition Democratic Unity coalition wave a Venezuelan national flag from a car while they celebrate their victory on a street in Caracas December 7, 2015.

''I voted because we want a change in this country. We're bored of the many queues, food shortages, a minimum wage that doesn't get us anywhere," another opposition voter have said.

"We're going through the worst crisis in our history," opposition leader Jesus Torrealba said.

"Venezuela wanted a change and that change came ... a new majority expressed itself and sent a clear and resounding message."

With the victory, the opposition will have power over the country’s budget and can also ensure amnesty to many opposition activists jailed under Socialist rule.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was sentenced to 13 years in prison in September for provoking anti-government 2014 protests in the country that claimed 43 lives.

If the opposition can get two-thirds of the majority when all seats are decided, they will have the power to strongly challenge Maduro’s power and even change the constitution which was written under the Chavez rule.

It is the latest example of leftist parties losing power in Latin America as well.

Last month, center-right opposition candidate Mauricio Macri won the presidential elections, ending 12 years of leftist rule.

TRTWorld and agencies