Local elections today a referendum on President Maduro
A lot is riding on the local government elections taking place in Venezuela today. A total of 19,066,431 eligible voters will be voting to elect 337 mayors and 2,455 councilmen across the country for four year terms.
In the last elections in 2008 the party of former president, Hugo Chávez, and now the party of President Nicolás Maduro, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 275 of the mayoral posts whilst the opposition took 46 posts including the capital Caracas and Maracaibo (the second largest city).
The opposition are hoping that food shortages, power cuts and inflation running at an annual rate of 54.3% will tip the balance in their favour. Maduro is relying on the Chávez effect which is still strong especially in rural areas, and he has recently taken extra powers to force down prices in the shops which has had a positive effect on his polling results.
If the PSUV wins then expect even more Socialist measures to be introduced. If the opposition win then expect a clampdown with areas voting for opposition mayors likely to have their central government grants cut. But, if the opposition win a lot of additional seats then President Maduro will be significantly weakened in the country and within his party.
Polling stations are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time.