Venezuela: Chavistas celebrate key win in elections
Supporters of the Venezuelan government celebrated their victory in the municipal elections held on December 8. Analysts have commented that results indicate President Nicolas Maduro has “reconnected” with the social base of the Chavista movement.
The first results announced gave the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) victory in 58% of the country’s municipalities. The PSUV and its allies gained more than 49% of the total vote share versus 43% for the opposition.
After the results were announced, President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised speech from the Plaza Bolivar in central Caracas to celebrate the win.
“Without a doubt we’ve obtained a great victory today, the people of Venezuela have said to the world that the Bolivarian revolution continues with more strength than ever,” he said.
Maduro mentioned that the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition had now lost four national elections over the past 14 months.
He also responded to opposition leader Henrique Capriles’ argument that the municipal elections would be a “plebiscite” on the government’s mandate: “There you have your plebiscite, Caprichito, fascist. I hope that he learns about humility and shows his face to the country and resigns from the political leadership of the MUD.”
The next electoral challenge for the government will not be until 2015, when National Assembly elections will be held. Maduro suggested the PSUV and their allies in the Great Patriotic Pole coalition should start thinking about these now, in order to “win big” and “sweep fascism away”.
A year of challenges
Backed by the election results, Maduro also announced the government’s economic and political priorities for 2014.
The president is hoping to draft a law this week that will set out a comprehensive methodology to regulate costs, prices and profits “for all the products in the country, for all sectors”.
“Yes it can be done, and we’re going to consolidate it,” Maduro announced. He said he will also look at measures against overpricing in the property and housing sectors.
A new phase of Maduro’s Street Government initiative will be launched in January. Priorities to work on include: developing the housing mission and the community renovation program Barrio Nuevo, the improvement of public hospitals, the guarantee of drinking water supply to all homes, and the spreading of the anti-crime Safe Homeland Plan.
As opposed to during the municipal election campaign, opposition leaders did not mention the words “referendum” or “plebiscite” in their response to the results.
Henrique Capriles claimed that turnout of 59% was “low” and that the government had run an “abusive” campaign. Like other opposition leaders, the state governor alleged the government’s recent economic measures were solely aimed at gaining electoral support for the municipal elections.
The measures, termed as an “economic offensive” by Maduro, forced price reductions of some goods regarded as speculative.
However, Capriles argued: “All those measures … were taken to try to arrive at December 8, but we know there’s a December 9 tomorrow and that a very difficult future is coming for our country.”
The opposition also called for “unity” and “dialogue”. Maduro has committed himself to work with all mayors elected.
'Reconnecting' with the Chavista base
The president of private polling firm Hinterlaces, Oscar Schemel, commented this morning that the municipal election results are positive for Chavismo.
He said the recent price cuts and other measures, which lowered the cost of life for ordinary people, helped the Maduro government garner greater support among its traditional social base.
He told TV channel Globovision: “This evidently reconnected Chavismo and Maduro with their followers. In some way the hopes of broad sectors that were distanced from the government have been reestablished.”
Both state-owned and private media have coincided in praising the peaceful and ordinary nature of the elections.
[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis.]