Latin America

Maduro challenges opposition election victories before top court

If appeal accepted, the swearing in of new National Assembly members will be postponed

MUD secretary general Jesús Torrealba (center) during a news conference. EFE

The ruling United Socialist Venezuelan Party (PSUV) filed six election challenges with the Supreme Court on Monday to dispute victories that were given to the opposition during the December 6 general election in the Latin American country.

If the top court agrees to accept those challenges, ballots could be recast in districts where eight opposition deputies won.

The Supreme Court has the power to prevent the eight opposition deputies from taking their seats

In announcing the inquiry, the Supreme Court said Tuesday that there are allegations of irregularities that took place, including vote-buying and null ballots that were found in the electoral districts located in the states of Aragua, Yaracuy, Amazonas and the special jurisdiction of Indigenous communities.

The Supreme Court has the power to prevent the eight opposition deputies from taking their seats when the New National Assembly is sworn in on January 5.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) won a super majority in the 167-member assembly by capturing 112 seats earlier this month. The PSUV lost its control in the legislative body by only garnering 55 seats.

With two-thirds majority, the MUD will have enough parliamentary power to reform the Constitution and carry out censor votes against the vice president and government ministers.

After 17 years of Chavismo, Venezuela’s new political scenario is seen as unacceptable to many who support President Nicolás Maduro. Some analysts believe that the government is trying to reduce the number of seats in the opposition bank as well as deactivate the qualified majority’s power it needs to get certain laws passed.

At the same time, this new legal situation could postpone the swearing-in of the new deputies next week, and keep the PSUV and its allies in power at the National Assembly until the Supreme Court hands down its decision.

During the last session held on December 23, the PSUV-backed body named 13 justices and 21 alternates – all loyal to the government – to the top court.

MUD secretary general Jesús Torrealba compared the government’s action to “street election violence”

During a news conference on Tuesday, MUD secretary general Jesús Torrealba compared the government’s action to “street election violence,” and said that the opposition garnered more than 10,000 votes than the PSUV in the eight races that are being challenged.

On the national level, the opposition won two million more votes than the PSUV.

Last week, Torrealba announced that the Supreme Court justices had come back from the Christmas holiday just to take up the PSUV’s challenge to the elections.

The opposition is now concentrating all of its efforts on guaranteeing that its members will take their seats in the National Assembly on January 5. On Sunday, MUD hopes to announce the new assembly leaders.

English version by Martin Delfín.

More information