Venezuela’s head of state nicolas maduro wants to exclude the main opposition parties from next year’s presidential election.
The boycott by three of the main opposition parties in sunday’s municipal elections automatically disqualifies them from participating in the next elections, maduro declared after casting his vote in caracas. He will stand for re-election and win the election, he stressed.
"From today on they disappear completely. A party that has not participated cannot run again," said the socialist president. This is the criterion of the constituent assembly, and he supports it.
The opposition parties accion democratica, primero justicia and voluntad popular had called for a boycott of the municipal elections after the government refused to comply with their demands for more transparency in the ballot process.
The socialist governing party PSUV won mayoral elections in over 300 of the country’s 335 municipalities, the state news agency AVN reported. "Long live the fatherland, long live rebellious venezuela," said maduro at a victory celebration in caracas.
Zulia state also fell to the government. New elections were held there because the opposition governor refused to be sworn in by the pro-government constituent assembly after the regional elections in october and was therefore not allowed to take office.
The opposition alliance MUD accused the government of electoral fraud. "There is no doubt that nicolas maduro does not have and will never have the support of the majority of the country," it hailed in a statement. "Venezuela demands a change. Those who celebrate today on the ruins know that the people hunger for food, medicine and freedom."
The world’s richest country suffers from a severe economic crisis. Due to mismanagement, corruption and the relatively low price of oil, there is a shortage of foreign currency to import food and necessities. Several rating agencies already certify venezuela a partial bankruptcy. The international monetary fund predicts an inflation rate of over 2300 percent for next year.
The opposition has recently suffered a series of setbacks against the increasingly authoritarian maduro. After regularly bringing thousands of people to the streets in demonstrations against the government in the spring, the protests have recently subsided considerably.
The opposition-controlled parliament was largely stripped of its power by a constituent assembly loyal to the government. The government had already won most of the governorships in the regional elections in october. After the triumph in the municipal elections, maduro can now prepare for his re-election in a stronger position.
The presidential election is actually scheduled for the end of next year. However, the government was able to bring the vote forward to take the momentum of the recent electoral victories with them. Rough competition does not have to fear maduro. The most important opposition leaders are in jail, have fled abroad or have been barred from the elections.