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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

Program gives street kids not only food and safety, but a chance for a better life without crossing US border
More

US Senate Kills Immigration Bill, House to Vote Friday

Earlier Thursday, Republican-led chamber abandoned plans to vote on $659 million bill that addresses influx of more than 57,000 unaccompanied Central American children
More

Argentina Defaults Again on Debt

Negotiators failed late Wednesday to reach an agreement with New York investment companies to avert the default
More

Cameroon’s Coffee Farmers Blame Government for Production Drops

Cameroon's growers, dealers and experts mourn declines in a nation that once ranked 12th in the world.
More

Argentina, US Creditors Fail to Reach Deal; Default Imminent

This will mark the second time in 13 years Argentina has defaulted on its debt
More

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Officials grapple with ways to deal with problem, provide shelter for thousands of minors among illegal border crossers
More