PSUV take majority of council seats
Most commentators are suggesting that the local elections held on Sunday were a victory for President Nicolás Maduro. The evidence suggests that it was less of a success than it first appears.
The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 196 mayoralties out of a total of 337 mayoralties. In 2008 the PSUV won 275 mayoralties with the opposition taking 46 councils. In Sunday’s election the opposition Unified Democratic Panel (MUD) won 53 councils including some important urban centres. El Universal reports that MUD won the “capital cities of the states of Barinas (the hometown of late Hugo Chávez), Carabobo, Lara, Mérida, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Táchira, Zulia and the Mayoralty of the Metropolitan District of Caracas”.
Success for the president can be measured in the respective percentages of the vote; in the presidential election earlier this year President Maduro took 50.61% of the vote and in Sunday’s elections the PSUV took 49.24% of the vote, suggesting that the Chavezism vote held up reasonably well. Maduro’s opponent in the presidential election in April, Henrique Capriles Radonski, took 49.12% of the vote, but the MUD opposition on Sunday only managed 42.72% of the vote.
The crucial test as to the success of the election has still to be revealed; President of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, has refused so far to reveal the results of 72 mayoralties, apparently because they are too close to call.
Although the opposition vote dropped on a 58.92% turnout they may yet take control of more significant councils. Meanwhile the president has to handle an economy that is stagnating, inflation running at 53% and chronic shortages of consumer staples; and all of that with nearly half of the country against.