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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Strong Hurricane Hits Mexico's Baja California Peninsula

Thousands of tourists and residents are using shelters to escape the storm, including some set up in the region's luxury hotels
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More

Hard-hitting Films Tackle Homelessness at Toronto Festival

'Time Out of Mind,' 'Shelter,' and 'Heaven Knows What' all focus on characters struggling with homelessness, addiction on the streets of New York
More

After Tax Reform Triumph, Chile's President Faces Rockier Road

'Honeymoon' may be over for Michelle Bachelet as protests rise and economy, security outlook worsen
More

Mexico: Texas Governor's Border Deployment Politically Motivated

Rick Perry says he is sending up to 1,000 troops to Mexican border to deter criminal activity caused by drug cartels
More

Video Authorities Allege Ties Between LA Fashion Industry, Cartels

Officials say the LA fashion industry has attracted drug money since the Mexican government tightened restrictions on cash transfers
More