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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Launches Special Police Force to Guard Economic Activity

New 5,000-member force will be part of federal police, and it will focus on protecting agriculture, mining, and oil and gas production against criminal groups
More

Colombia Army, Rebels Meet Face-to-Face at Peace Talks

Sit-down in Havana, Cuba, is first time in 50-year conflict that active-duty officers, FARC members have talked peace together
More

Peru's Congress Fails to Ratify Humala's New Cabinet

Key conservative allies withheld their votes, failure underscores president's waning political power as economy slows
More

US Judge Calls Argentina Debt-Swap Plan 'Illegal'

But, Judge Thomas Griesa stopped short of holding country in contempt, saying that would not help resolve dispute that led to nation's second default in a dozen years
More

Brazil Presidential Race Gets One More Candidate

Environmentalist Marina Silva to join contest for Socialist Party candidate; vote to be held October 5
More

Guatemalan General Killed in Copter Crash Near Mexico Border

General Rudy Ortiz was among five people killed; cause under investigation; weather said to have been possible factor
More