VENEZUELA, Dec. 10, 2015– On Wednesday, Venezuelan election authorities confirmed the crushing defeat of the United Social Party of Venezuela (PSUV), currently led by President Nicolas Maduro who succeeded Hugo Chavez, by the hand of opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). Voters turned out in mass with more than 74 percent taking to the polls to demand an end to socialist policies.
Maduro swiftly declared he would block “the counter-revolutionary right” from taking over the country. “We won’t let it,” he said.
The defeat of Venezuela’s socialist controlled Congress is the first in 16 years. Opposition leaders promised to address socio-economic turmoil in the country created by the socialist revolution. Currently, unemployment is near 20 percent, inflation has increased 100 percent, the GDP shrunk 10 percent in 2015 alone, and food and utilities shortages plague the country.
Venezuela’s National Assembly is the country’s legislative branch. It consists of 167 members sitting in one chamber. Wednesday’s confirmation gave the opposition party a super-majority in the Assembly. The new party will not be sworn in until January 2016, but leaders urged swift action.
“We’re just a few weeks away from a very serious problem in terms of food,” Democratic Unity coalition leader Jesus Torrealba said at a news conference. “We urge the government to start working.”
The opposition also promised to force amnesty laws in order to release political prisoners. While Maduro defiantly promised to block any such actions, the President has limited veto powers under Venezuela’s Constitution.
While the opposition’s new-found power gives them the opportunity to completely oust Maduro, some prominent opposition leaders want to give him a chance to change.
“If Maduro doesn’t change we’ll have to change the government. But the opposition’s response to the economic crisis right now can’t be more politics,” said Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro in the 2013 presidential elections.