ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tough Victory

A polarised Venezuela delivers a close verdict in elections to the national assembly.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution” is intact, but the opposition has made gains. This is the message from the 26 September elections to the national assembly. The ruling Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV), and its allies have won 99 of the 165 seats in the national assembly and 5 of the 12 seats for the Latin American parliament, while the opposition led by the coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) has managed 64 and 5 seats, respectively. In terms of voter support, the MUD has managed to garner support from nearly half the electorate.

While the opposition is jubilant that it has managed to prevent the PSUV from obtaining a two-thirds majority, it is clear that the outcome is no major setback to the Bolivarian project. The opposition, comprising parties that had dominated Venezuelan politics before the election of Chavez as president in 1998, had boycotted the previous elections in 2005, a decision that handed the national assembly on a platter to the Chavez-led Fifth Republic Movement (the precursor to the PSUV) and other supporting parties. The boycott was the culmination of a series of political events in Venezuela, including a short-lived coup in 2002, through which the opposition sought to halt Chavez’s socialist project.

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