Argentina has remained silent after a contested weekend election in Venezuela where the ruling Socialist party prevailed over the opposition, the Democratic Unity coalition, by winning 17 out of 23 state governorships. As of noon on Tuesday, Argentina did not have an official opinion on the elections in Venezuela. The Bubble confirmed this with the press office of Argentina’s Foreign Ministry.
The election was condemned by international observers while Venezuelan opposition leaders alleged fraud and encouraged citizens not to legitimize the election by participating in it. Maduro justified the legitimacy of the election as a referendum against Donald Trump and US sanctions, and claimed that 61 percent of the population voted. The vote comes after President Nicolas Maduro’s move to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution in July.
Yajaira Forero, a Deputy for the National Assembly of Venezuela, told The Bubble Tuesday that the opposition’s only option is to use the levers of democratic power in order to prevail against the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro. “We will maintain the fight and will not stop taking to the street to fight for the people,” Forero said. She stressed that the levers of powers are entirely against the opposition; they are not armed, have very little access to political power, and cannot ensure free and fair elections.
— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) October 16, 2017
As The New York Times reported, Venezuelan opposition leaders said that the government’s decision to move 200 voting sites and include the names of opposition leaders who had lost in the primaries on the ballot was a deliberate attempt to skew the vote. Forero confirmed that these issues were critical in the opposition’s loss on Sunday. Gerardo Blyde, the Democratic Unity’s campaign leader demanded an audit of the 23 gubernatorial races and asked the party’s candidates to lead protests.
The Guardian reported that the Socialist party controlled 20 out of 23 state governorships, but the losses for Maduro were expected to be far larger based on public opinion polls prior to the election; polling suggested that the opposition could take as many as 16 governorships.
However, the result of the election is still in question. Maduro has said that all governors, including the ones elected by the opposition, must swear allegiance to the new national constituent assembly – the body comprised of government loyalists that Maduro used to replace the parliament. It is possible that Maduro will use the unchecked body’s powers to replace the newly elected opposition governors.
Argentina’s response has been muted thus far. Although President Mauricio Macri stated in August that Venezuela should be indefinitely suspended from MERCOSUR, Argentina has not taken any further public actions to help resolve the situation in Venezuela which continues to worsen after the government’s win.