Yesterday was the official kick off for Venezuela’s September 26 legislative elections. Although the presidential elections are two years away, this election is seen as both a future predictor and an opportunity.
The opposition boycotted elections for lawmakers five years ago. This resulted in the parliament seats falling entirely in the hands of Chavez and his allies. After Chavez’s eleven years in power, Venezuela suffers from growing inflation and rampant crime rates. Many opponents see this as an opportunity to wrestle back some of the control Chavez has accumulated.
Despite being the only oil driven economy in Latin America to remain in a recession, the highest inflation rate (30%+) in Latin America, and one of the highest murder rates in the world, Chavez remains Venezuelans most popular politician.
Hoping to capitalize on the government inability to address these issues, opposition leaders hope to dent the “emotional link” many Venezuelans fee l to Chavez and his parties’ policies. The oppositions goal is to win at least a third of the seats in the legislature, this would give them the necessary numbers to limit any major legislative changes.