Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

About 42 percent of eligible voters voted in Sunday’s vote, leading to a major defeat of Venezuelan opposition.

Venezuela’s political opposition must rebuild and reflect on its strategy after suffering a heavy defeat weekend elections, said leader Juan Guaido, calling for unity under the leadership of the fragmented movement.

The opposition on Sunday broke an almost four-year election boycott to run for mayor and governor, but paid for its failure to nominate some candidates against President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV).

Opposition figures have won in just three of 23 states, while Maduro allies have won 18 governorships, according to updated election results published by the National Electoral Commission (CNE) on Monday.

Maduro’s ruling party and its allies were well positioned to claim the last two states, while a PSUV candidate also held the mayor’s office in the capital, Caracas. The president on Sunday hailed the result of the vote as an “impressive” victory to be “celebrated”.

It was the first time in almost four years that the opposition dispute regional polls, encouraged in part by the presence of European Union (EU) observers.

Electoral officials said Monday that 42.2 percent of the South American country’s 21 million registered voters went to the polls on Sunday, although it has not yet published final official results.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, who reported from Caracas, said low voter turnout did not help the opposition.

“They expected that checks on the ground would help them achieve their goal. However, things did not go as planned, “Bo reported. “The biggest problem facing the opposition here is that about 60 percent of the population did not vote … but also the great division that exists within the opposition.”

Analysts said before the vote that the opposition’s late decision to participate and infighting over whether he should elect candidates would damage his performance.

Guaido, the former speaker of Congress who is recognized by the US and his allies as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, said on Monday that the opposition must “rebuild itself” after the disappointing result.

President Nicolas Maduro’s allies win 18 out of 23 governorships in Sunday’s vote [Yuri Cortez/AFP]

“Today opens a new phase,” he said without providing details. “Today is a time for reflection under our leadership … This is not the time for fighting or egotism among political leaders.”

Guaido also said what happened on Sunday underscored “the obvious need for unification” among opposition forces if they want to challenge the ruling party, or Maduro, in the 2024 presidential election.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Maduro’s government of holding flawed elections that “skewed the process” of determining the outcome in advance in his party’s favor, citing harassment and a ban on opposition candidates, voter roll manipulation and censorship.

A preliminary report from EU election observers is due to appear on Tuesday, but there have been no major reports of disruption.

Meanwhile, Maduro said on Sunday that a return to negotiations in Mexico with the Venezuelan opposition would not take place until “the kidnapping” of a prominent government envoy Alex Saab – which was recently extradited to the US on charges of money laundering – is accounted for.

The conversations, which began in August, is intended to find a way out of Venezuela’s economic and social crisis.

Guaido said he was cautiously optimistic that the government would return to the table and discussed with international allies ways to increase pressure on Maduro’s government.

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