Venezuelan opposition win majority in key election
Nearly seventeen years of rule by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela will end after the opposition Democratic Union Roundtable coalition won control of the National Assembly by a substantial majority, securing 99 out of 167 seats in the state legislature. Twenty-two seats are yet to be confirmed early on Monday.
Opposition leader Jesus Torrealba said “Venezuela wanted a change and today that change has begun.” Nicolas Maduro, who took power after the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, has overseen the nation with the world’s largest confirmed oil reserves slip into an economic nose-dive which has led to a surge in violent crime and severe shortages in food and basic supplies.
In recent years the government has been involved in a string of controversies that point to high-level corruption. In the run up to this election one opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, was jailed for 14 years, and another, Luis Diaz, was murdered at a rally less than two weeks ago. Fears that Maduro would not accept the defeat seemed to be laid to rest in the aftermath of the voting, with the former president saying “We have come with our morals and our ethics to recognise these adverse results, to accept them and to say to our Venezuela that the constitution and democracy have triumphed.”
The result may be decisive, and the corruption and cynicism of Maduro may be clear, but opinion is still split. Among some of the poor, there are fears that social programmes for healthcare, education and housing will end, but more widely there is optimism that the country can emerge from a chronic breakdown in security that has seen serious violent crime become commonplace.