Chavismo won the regional elections Sunday. This is how the national political map shows that, in terms of governorates, shows twenty states in the hands of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv) and three in the hands of different opposition forces, an irreversible map with the exception of the state of Barinas, which, in the hours of Monday afternoon, was still under final count. Twenty state capitals were also in the hands of Chavismo and, of the total of 335 mayors at stake, the Psuv won in 205, a figure still in the process of closing.
“I extend my hands to the elected governors of the opposition to meet, make joint plans and support the states in which they have been elected, it is my call that I make (…) those opposition governors who have won are people with political experience. , political wisdom and they will know how to respond to my invitation ”, affirmed the president Nicolás Maduro, accompanied by the leadership of Chavismo, minutes after the election results were known.
The three states won by the opposition were Cojedes, for the Bureau of Democratic Unity (MUD), New sparta, by the Fuerza Vecinal party, and Zulia, oil region, particularly marked by shortages of electricity and water, for the Un Nuevo Tiempo party, with Manuel Rosales. “If we had been united, at least more than ten governorships would have accompanied the victory of Zulia last night, and also a significant number of mayors,” said Rosales, former governor and former presidential candidate against Hugo Chávez in 2006.
The opposition division was one of the elements that allowed Chavismo to win in several states. One of them, Táchira, key also for being on the border with Colombia, was recovered by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv) at the hands of Freddy Bernal, who in the last four years played an important role under the figure of “protector” of the state, particularly in the border axis, a complex area due to the dynamics of smuggling and paramilitarism. Bernal won on Sunday with 138,496 votes, against the now former governor Laidy Gómez who obtained 135.05% and the third, Fernando Andrade, also an opponent, who obtained 54,787 votes.
The situation of unity of Chavismo in the party, the government and the discourse, in contrast to the division of the opposition, both between the parties and in the messages, was a central element to understand the map thrown by the polls. In terms of votes, the group of oppositions obtained slightly more than 4,400.00, and the Psuv reached a little more than 3,700,000 – about 600,000 votes less than that obtained in the 2020 legislative elections – but, due to the configuration of the electoral scene and its strategy, achieved a victory by a large majority.
The participation, meanwhile, was 42.26%, a number that can be given to different interpretations and analysis. Chile, that same Sunday, also had elections, in this case presidential – leaving José Antonio Kast and Gabriel Boric for the second round – and the turnout was 47.3%. In France, where regional elections took place this year, turnout was 34%. That is, in international comparative terms, the Venezuelan election was not marked by strong abstention, but within a table that, in several countries, shows shares below 50%.
In national termss the abstention analysis had several interpretations. On the one hand, in comparative terms with 2020, the share rose close to 11%, that is, it reversed the downward trend. On the other hand, seen in the line of regional elections, the number showed the permanence of a decrease in participation, since in 2017 it was 61%, and in 2012 it was 53.94%. This increase in abstention can be read as part of a political wear and tear as a result of the confrontational dynamics, and of an economic situation in decline since 2014 -The GDP fell close to 75% – translated into emigration, wage loss, uneven dollarization, in a framework of the economic blockade led by Washington.
“We must continue to recover the vote as a right, as power, as a permanent exercise, as a mechanism, there are many tasks ahead to recover the motivation for the vote of all Venezuelans,” said Maduro in this regard in the speech of the Sunday at night.
The election was in turn a mechanism for measuring forces within the oppositions in a context of fragmentation that has been deepening since 2018, when one part of the opposition abstained before Maduro’s election, and another decided to participate. The result was negative for the whole due to the map of governorates and mayors, and, to a greater extent, for the opposition gathered on the MUD card, in particular a part of Democratic Action, First Justice, and Popular Will, that is, the forces who presented themselves during these years in discursive terms as the central actors of the opposition.
This internal dispute was expressed by Rosales, who stated: “politics cannot be exercised from social networks, never, but never will social networks replace direct contact with people (…) a leadership will never be born by decree”, in a Allusive message to Juan Guaidó. One of the emerging questions is who will take the lead in the ranks of the oppositions in the context of a new poor electoral performance and an inability for political renewal, expressed in that all three governors-elect turned out to be longtime politicians.
That same question has its international translation. The White House, given the result, sent a message of support to Guaidó this Monday, informing that there will be representatives of the “interim government of Venezuela” at the so-called Virtual Summit for Democracy led by Joe Biden in December. This support does not bring, however, a clear answer to what Washington will do in view of the fact that Guaidó has only virtual existence within the country, and, in a year, the Venezuelan government managed to recover the Legislative power, form a new electoral power in accordance with the opposition, and now managed to win the majority of governorships and mayors.