Venezuela’s ruling leftist PSUV and its allies received 49.2 percent of the vote in nationwide municipal elections, compared with 42.7 percent for the opposition coalition MUD, which had approached the balloting as a referendum on the performance of President Nicolas Maduro.
Even so, MUD unseated PSUV incumbents in five mayoral races and held on the mayor’s offices in metropolitan Caracas and Maracaibo, the latter being the country’s second most important city.
After a long polling day, Maduro emerged to celebrate what he said was a victory for democracy and against “destabilization.”
“This great achievement is going to bathe all of Venezuela in peace, in stability, for the work we have to do in the rest of this year and next year,” Maduro told his supporters.
“Our triumph is a guarantee. Imagine if the right would have won. What would be happening now?” he added, recalling that the opposition had framed the vote in terms of a referendum on Maduro’s performance in office amid the difficult economic situation the country is experiencing.
The PSUV and associated parties won 196 mayoral elections compared to 53 for the MUD, amid turnout of nearly 59 percent.
Maduro won a special election last April to succeed Hugo Chavez, who died in March of cancer after 14 years in office.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Henrique Capriles emphasized that Venezuela remains “a divided country.”
“Today, it has to be clear to all of us Venezuelans that this country does not have an owner, that here no party is the owner of Venezuela, neither the governing party nor the opposition,” he said in Caracas.
Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, lost the special election to Maduro months after being defeated by Chavez in the October 2012 general elections.