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Monday, 21st April 2014

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Venezuelan election results

Elections in Venezuela for the National Assembly took place on Sunday with a turnout of 66.45%, meaning that more than 11 million Venezuelans took part in the democratic process. This is a positive reflection on how Venezuela's state institutions under Chavez have enfranchised people who had been traditionally excluded from the political process. From 1999 to 2009, an additional 6 million Venezuelans were added to the electoral register, with an additional 610,000 more registered before this poll.

Results show that the governing party of President Chavez, the PSUV, won the most votes. It received 5,422,040 votes (48.4%) whilst the united right-wing opposition coalition MUD won 5,320,175 votes (47.4%).

This can be compared with the previous election - a referendum on the right of the President to be able to stand for election again held on 15 February 2009. This was endorsed by 54% of the electorate, against 46% opposing the measure. Since that vote Venezuela ’s economy has been affected by the world recession, and a severe and persistent drought earlier this year, which no doubt in part explain the reduced vote for the supporters of President Chavez.

The result in terms of seats is that the PSUV won 96 seats, while MUD won 64, and a third grouping the PPT won two. Three seats went to indigenous people’s representatives unaligned with either the PSUV or the MUD.

As the opposition boycotted the last National Assembly elections in 2005, in a bid to de-legitimize the democratic process when it became clear they would be defeated, it was always inevitable they would gain a substantial number of seats this time compared with the number of seats they previously held. The 63 seats won this year by the opposition can however be compared with the 2000 National Assembly elections, when it won 80 seats.

Much of the media coverage was, as usual, heavily weighted against the Chavez-led Government and has so far tried to focus on the fact that the percentage of seats that the PSUV won is higher than its percentage of votes - as it won 57% of the seats with 48.4% of the vote.

This however is not something particularly unusual, including in Britain , as Venezuela also has a first past the post electoral system for the majority of its seats.  For example, in Britain , general elections often give results with a variation between percentage of the vote and seats allocated:

  • In 1945, the Attlee Government won 49.7% of the vote and took 62% of the seats
  • In 1983, the Conservatives won 61% of the seats with only 42% of the vote
  • In 1997, Labour won a record 63% of the seats with 43% of the votes.

In terms of the impact of the result, having won a majority of the National Assembly, the PSUV will be able to pass ordinary laws and carry out most other functions of the legislative body. However, as the PSUV does not have a two-thirds majority, the opposition will have the power to block special laws that give power to the President, and to block some appointments to other branches of the government.

It remains to be seen whether the Opposition will use their parliamentary representation to wage opposition within the confines of existing democratic rules and of the Bolivarian constitution or use it to destabilise the country as they have so far done. Throughout the electoral campaign the Opposition kept sowing doubts about the probity and impartiality of the National Electoral Council.

The election itself was impeccably organised and conducted with a fastidiousness which, as on every single election since 1998, absolutely guaranteed that the electoral process was totally free and fair.

In the accompanying Latin American Parliament elections, the PSUV achieved 46.62% of the vote, while the opposition (MUD) won 45.1% of the vote. In this election, 11,204,679 people voted.

 

Source: Venezuela Solidarity Campaign