Venezuela’s Maduro Reaches Out to Elected Opposition Leaders, Calls for Unity

venezuelars_maduro_reaches_out_to_elected_opposition_leaders_2C_calls_for_unity.jpg / The controversial recount in Barinas’ governor race was suspended on a Supreme Court order.

By Paul Dobson Nov 29th 2021 at 5.27pm Topics Participation and Elections Tags Regional Elections 2021 Barinas State Short URL :  img-20211103-wa0094-540×404.jpg Incumbent governor Argenis Chávez (R) closed his campaign in Barinas state alongside Obispos mayor candidate Rolando Reyes (L). Results in Barinas are still to be announced. (Comando de Campaña) Mérida, November 29, 2021 ( ) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called for unity following last week’s ” mega-elections .”

Speaking Sunday, the president extended an invitation to a “good yield” of elected opposition governors and mayors to visit the Presidential Palace and discuss “specific problems in their states and municipalities.” Among those invited was Manuel Rosales , who ran against Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chávez in 2006 and was re-elected Zulia state governor last Sunday.

Maduro also took the opportunity to encourage leftwing forces to “forgive everything we have to forgive” and “unite,” announcing a pact to “rectify and re-found the revolution.” Beyond asking winning and losing government candidates to sign it, the president offered no details on the purported agreement. Recently, government policies have been the subject of fierce debate and criticism both within the ranks of the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) and from other leftist forces .

Pro-government forces won at least 19 of the 23 governorships and 63% of mayoralties in Sunday’s “mega-elections,” as well as similar majorities of regional legislators and local councilors. The PSUV, however, won only 46% of the total votes cast. It is the first time that the ruling party has failed to win a majority of votes since 2015.

The hard-right Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and more moderate Democratic Alliance won 26% and 16% of the total votes, taking two and one governorships, respectively. Likewise, a handful of independent opposition candidates recorded larger-than-expected results, such as the Neighborhood Force party. National Electoral Council (CNE) data indicates that unified opposition efforts may have defeated PSUV candidates in as many as fifteen additional states.

In the aftermath of the vote, leading opposition politician Juan Guaidó also made a call for unity, telling reporters that “the immediate task at hand is to reunite these forces which clearly confront the [so-called] dictatorship.”

Despite his call for unity, the self-declared “interim president” took aim at the competing Democratic Alliance bloc, claiming that it is made up of “parties which have been hijacked by the [so-called] dictator and the majority of them are even financed by the government.”

The regional and local elections were overseen by hundreds of international observers from 55 countries, and were largely held in a civic and peaceful manner.

One of the organizations accompanying the election was the European Union (EU), which sent a 136-strong mission to evaluate both pre- and post-election conditions for the first time in 15 years. The EU team published a preliminary report last week which highlighted what it considered to be “better” electoral conditions but pointed to an unfair playing field during campaigning, specifically in candidate disqualification, media coverage and campaign financing. The final report is due to be presented in early 2022.

Hitting back, Maduro argued that last week’s election was “impeccable,” and that the EU mission had failed in its efforts to “stain” the process.

He went on to accuse the mission, which was led by Portuguese Socialist Eurodeputy Isabel Santos, of “spying.” “They deployed themselves across the country freely, spying on social, economic and political life,” the president claimed during a televised broadcast.

Disputes in Barinas and Zulia states EU observers are currently centered in Venezuela’s Barinas state, where CNE authorities are under pressure to declare the victor in the disputed governorship. All other governor contests were announced hours after polls closed.

Despite PSUV candidate Argenis Chávez leading with 10% of the votes left to count, later figures placed MUD politician Freddy Superlano ahead. Normally rapid electronic tallying was reportedly hampered by lost voting machines, missing paper backups and administrative problems caused by the expiration of local jurisdiction. The delay has sparked accusations of CNE partiality and has caused tension in the streets of several towns in Barinas.

On Friday, electoral authorities transferred tallying to a three-person board in accordance with electoral law. The board was due to start the recount on Monday before the Supreme Court ordered that the process be suspended in order to investigate an opposition-introduced lawsuit alleging voting violations.

The state is symbolically important to the government being the home region of former president Hugo Chávez. Both Superlano and Argenis Chávez, who is Hugo Chávez’s brother, have claimed victory.

Electoral results were likewise disputed in Jesús María Semprun municipality in Zulia state, where residents held a march and other protests to demand the impugnation of the process over the weekend. A formal request for electoral authorities to repeat the election has also been lodged by the Communist Party (PCV).

Voting in the locality was reportedly halted for many hours on election day after violent outbreaks forced police to use tear gas. Incumbent PSUV Mayor Keyrineth Fernández, who has been blamed for instigating the violence, was later declared victorious by the CNE with 47% and a margin of 757 votes. The PCV, whose candidate reportedly won 42%, claims that over 800 voters in the sparsely populated region were unable to vote due to the turmoil.

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Topics Participation and Elections Tags Regional Elections 2021 Barinas State Short URL : 

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