Caracas, Venezuela – The Venezuelan opposition won over Nicolás Maduro’s socialist party with over twice the number of seats in the National Assembly during yesterday’s legislative elections, as it was announced today by the National Electoral Council. This has been the first victory of the opposition in 16 years against the socialist regime started by the former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez Frías.
Tibisay Lucena, head of the National Electoral Council, reported today at 12:30 am, that the opposition’s Democratic Unity had won 99 seats in the National Assembly, while the PSUV — the government’s official party — got 46 out of the 167 seats in dispute.
There were still 22 seats to be determined. Later today, the number was updated with the remaining spots, 112 of them to the Democratic Unity and 51 to the socialist coalition. That translates into a percentage of 67.06% against 30.53%, as it was announced by authorities.
“We’ve lost a battle, but the fight for the construction of socialism is just starting,” said Venezuelan mandatary Nicolás Maduro after he accepted the results, adding that the victory of the opposing side had been “a slap in the face,” and a wake-up call while also describing it as a “counter-revolution.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski called for Maduro to abide by the new Assembly.
But what does the opposition’s victory means for the country? With 122 seats in the Assembly, the Democratic Unity has a qualified majority of two thirds, which grants them enough power to take measures such as the intervention of several laws (like the one dictating price regulations and foreign exchange control), call for a constitutional reform or constitutional Assembly and dismiss members from the Supreme Court of Justice and other public entities. This would make a shift in Venezuela’s political scenery, mainly directed by the socialist party up until now.
According to Venezuelan news outlet El Nacional, the opposition has two main goals after their victory, which are enacting an amnesty law that allows the liberation of political prisoners, and a second law that gives a heads up to reactivate national production in order to combat the country’s shortage of essential goods.
The initiative comes in the lights of the imprisonment of Leopoldo López, one of the opposing party’s leaders who was sentenced to almost 14 years in jail for allegedly promoting political violence; along with many other prisoners on the list.
Against Maduro’s warnings to his advocates, Jesús Torrealba, chief of the opposition coalition, also assured the party didn’t plan to end government based welfare programs that started under Chávez’s presidency.
Opposition leaders also claim they’ll restore the democracy in Venezuela, since they think official institutions have lost autonomy over the years.
There are still some factors that could possibly slow down the opposing party’s political plans. The former National Assembly with a socialist majority will still be in function until December 15th, a time during which, according to experts on the field, they could sanction an enabling law that allows Maduro to rule by decree from six months to a year.