News / Americas

Venezuelan Socialists Win 54 Percent of Mayors' Vote

A man casts his ballot in a box during a municipal elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 8, 2013.
A man casts his ballot in a box during a municipal elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 8, 2013.
Reuters
Venezuela's ruling Socialist Party and allies took 10 percentage points more votes than opposition rivals in Sunday's election for mayors that was a test of strength for President Nicolas Maduro, final results showed on Friday.
 
Though the ballot for mayors in the South American nation was a symbolic victory for Maduro's sometimes shaky-looking presidency, it also underlined the strength of his opponents in urban centers and the deep divisions of Venezuelan society.
 
The election board said pro-government candidates won 54 percent of the total, garnering 242 mayoralties at Sunday's ballot. The opposition Democratic Unity coalition and its partners took 44 percent, winning 75 mayoralties.
 
The final results, which reflected the government's greater strength in rural areas where there are more mayoralties, was a wider win for the socialists than the 6.5 percentage points given in first results hours after the vote.
 
Though disappointed in not winning an overall vote majority, opposition leader Henrique Capriles and others on his side have taken solace from winning most of the biggest cities, including the capital Caracas and the second city Maracaibo.
 
They even took Barinas, capital of the home state of the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro's predecessor.
 
“It was a lukewarm triumph for 'Chavismo', spoilt by the opposition's win in symbolic cities,” local pollster Luis Vicente Leon said, referring to the movement named for Chavez.
 
The opposition had appeared to be heading for a better result until Maduro launched a populist “economic offensive” in early November, sending soldiers and inspectors into shops to force retailers to reduce prices.
 
Venezuela's inflation rate of 54 percent annually is the highest in the Americas and was weighing on Maduro's popularity. But the measures reversed his ratings dips and seem to have won his candidates votes last weekend, even though some economists believe they will worsen the structural economic problems.
 
“He went on the attack and turned things round completely,”  a senior Maduro ally, Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, told Reuters, of the impact Maduro's drive against businesses had on the local elections.
 
Venezuelans are waiting to see if Maduro will now use his political breathing space to introduce some unpopular measures such as a currency devaluation.
 
His main challenge going into 2014 is the economy.
 
Growth has slowed, the local bolivar currency is trading on the black market at 10 times its official rate, and there are scarcities of basic goods from flour to toilet paper because importers say they cannot access enough foreign currency.
 
After four elections in just over a year - two presidential votes, one governors' election and the municipal polls - Venezuelan voters now have a respite until the end of 2015 when they will elect a new parliament.
 
Capriles, the governor of Miranda state who narrowly lost the April presidential vote, may come under pressure from within the opposition for his failure to deliver better results at Sunday's vote, which he had cast as a plebiscite.
 
Several other opposition leaders have advocated more confrontational tactics, such as street protests, against Maduro whom they cast as an autocrat taking instructions from Cuba and leading Venezuela's economy to ruin.
 
“The most noteworthy impact of the election result has been to turn the tables on Democratic Unity leader Henrique Capriles ... who now find himself under scrutiny for his ability to lead the 30-party opposition coalition,” wrote Michael Henderson, of global risk forecaster Maplecroft's.
 
“By contrast, in political terms the 8 December result has handed President Maduro a temporary reprieve ... the chances of a near-term challenge to his leadership have diminished.”

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

1 Man Pleads Guilty, 2 Indicted in Massive Data Breach

US prosecutors say defendants, working abroad, stole 1 billion email addresses and used them to send spam
More

Venezuela Swaps Oil to Import Beans as Coffee Output Sinks

Once a proud exporter, country reduced to bartering crude oil for growing volumes of Nicaraguan coffee beans to make sure people get their caffeine fix
More

ExxonMobil Set to Begin Drilling Off Guyana

Project could turn up the heat under a long-running territorial row with neighboring Venezuela
More

Peru Indigenous Groups Settle US Court Claims with Occidental

Achuar communities alleged Occidental spilled oil and dumped toxic waste while operating country's biggest oil block, triggering widespread health problems
More

Petrobras Scandal Threatens Brazil's Political, Business Elite

Executives reportedly feeling inclined to cut plea bargains that would result in less jail time in return for disclosing graft scheme details
More

Tests Indicate Argentine Prosecutor Was Slain, Ex-Wife Says

Alberto Nisman, found dead days after accusing president of involvement in cover-up, didn't commit suicide, Sandra Arroyo Salgado says
More