Venezuelan Opposition Divided on Regional Election Boycott

Venezuela’s right-wing opposition failed Thursday to reach a consensus on whether to participate in upcoming regional elections.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Short URL

b3f18e0d81ff4d679af5c63e9874b164.jpg

Venezuela's opposition remains divided over whether to participate in long awaited regional elections. (Archive)
Venezuela's opposition remains divided over whether to participate in long awaited regional elections. (Archive)

Puebla, Mexico, August 4, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s right-wing opposition failed Thursday to reach a consensus on whether to participate in upcoming regional elections.

During internal talks between major parties in the main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), right-wing leaders argued whether boycotting the December 10 regional elections could backfire.

“The government wants to compete alone, as in its constituent [assembly elections on Sunday]. Avoiding the [December regional] elections will help [the government] do this,” said Henry Ramos Allup, the head of the Accion Democratica (AD) party.

The head of another MUD member party, Avanzada Progresista’s Luis Romero agreed.

“You can not give space to the government; and since the opposition has an obvious majority, it has to fight in the regional [elections],” he said, according to newspaper El Nacional.

The newspaper also reported the main opponents of participating in the vote came from the far right parties of Voluntad Popular (VP) and Vente Venezuela (VV), along with the smaller, more centre-right Alianza Bravo Pueblo (ABP).

“Vente and ABP simply do not have candidates or cadres in all states,” one anonymous source told El Nacional.

The talks ended with just two of the MUD’s main parties remaining in favour of running; AD and AP. El Nacional reported insiders said two other parties were on the fence. These included Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT), and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles’ Primero Justicia (PJ).

The internal talks came just days after Venezuela’s national constituent assembly elections, which were boycotted by the MUD.

For over a decade, the MUD has repeatedly changed tack on the question of whether to participate in elections. The question has often fallen along ideological lines, with the far right typically calling for boycotts, and major parties like PJ and AD arguing in favour of political participation. The most famous case of the former took place in 2005, when five major opposition parties withdrew at the last minute. The ruling socialist movement easily won the elections, securing one of its largest majorities in history. However, right-wing holdouts of political participation often accuse the government of rigging elections, claiming defeat is all but guaranteed.

In 2015’s parliamentary elections, the MUD comfortably won a majority. However, on the state level, the MUD remains weak. In the last governorship elections in 2012, President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist party won of 20 of the 23 states. Some on the opposition have long argued the upcoming elections in December could deliver a major victory to the MUD, with Maduro’s popularity rating reportedly sitting at around 20 percent. The elections themselves are long overdue. Initially slated for late 2016, the vote was controversially delayed by electoral authorities.