Elections, Venezuela

Electoral waves sway Caracas


Photo by Andres via Flickr

No tanks grind along the washed-out streets of Caracas, nor have battalions stormed breakaway sectors of Venezuela this Monday. No revolutions were to be televised. Rest assured Ms. O’Grady, the Andean state lives to see another day.

Record numbers of Venezuelans hit the streets yesterday, enduring long lines to partake in the country’s regional and municipal elections.

After months of lofty expectations for a political showdown between Chavistas and opposition to the current regime, results dictated in the early hours this morning permit neither side to boast of fervent victory.

Charged for many months by an aura of executive scale, the vote would gauge popular sentiment for President Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian mandate and the fate of candidates who positioned themselves to such. Given his widespread grip upon the allied majority of Venezuela’s 22 states, it would test support for his ‘por ahora‘ stance, an onward pursuit toward expanding his grandiose socialist agenda.

Upon the announced results from the national election board (CNE), Chávez publicly declared:

We have a map almost completely dressed in of red, just a bit of red […] It’s a great victory for our people, for the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela). The road toward the construction of socialism has ratified itself– the new historic project of Venezuela; and now, we will move to deepen and extend it.

Although pro-Chávez candidates claimed victory in major swaths of the country, the most populous sectors with significant political sway, including the greater mayor of the nation’s capital Caracas, ceded to opposition. These decisive blows included wins in oil-heavy Zulia, north central Miranda, Tachira, and the industrial powerhouse, Carabobo. It appears grassroot frustrations with public security, inflation, high cost of food commodities, and lack of alternative chopped a leg from under the president on his country’s throne.

Chávez, however, contines to hold solid river cards at the governing table, brandishing broad insitutional control and consolidating party loyalists at nearly every level. Yet, his absolute goal of rehashing the failed 2007 constitutional referendum (allowing among other items, unlimited reelection) continues to sink, further washed over by the political riptide of yesterday’s ballot draw.

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