Maduro Re-elected for Second Term in VenezuelaJune 15, 2018 in Uncategorized
Presidential elections were held in Venezuela on 20thMay 2018 resulting in incumbent Nicolas Mauro, of the United Socialist Party (PSUV), being re-elected for his second six year term having won 67.8% of the votes. With the original election date being scheduled for December 2018, many analysts have called the election a ‘show’ election, with it having the lowest turnout in the country’s democratic history.
Concerns over the elections were openly voiced in the run up to the vote, with concerns over irregularities and changes to the election date being cited by many as well asinternational condemnation and allegations of vote buying and electoral fraud. A number of Venezuelan NGO’s including the Venezuelan Electoral Observatory expressed concerns over the legitimacy of the proposed election. The Human Rights Watch was also quoted in early May as saying the elections in Venezuela had ‘no credibility’. This statement was in part brought about due to Maduro disqualifying the majority of popular leaders of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and other members of opposition groups from being able to take part in the elections. Back in December 2017, Maduro disqualified a number of opposition groups including Justice First, Popular Will and Democratic Action from running in the elections due to accusations of boycotting the Mayoral elections. There were legitimate allegations raised regarding the elections, such Maduro offering recipients of state benefits a “prize” if they came out to vote. The prize meant struggling individuals would receive much-needed food and supplies, with the desired outcome being an increasingly reluctant public being compelled to vote for him in order to obtain this prize.
The results of the election have been rejected by a number of groups including the United Nations, the European Union, Lima Group and the Organization of American States. A number of countries have also followed suit, with Canada releasing a statement saying it does not recognise the legitimacy of Venezuela’s presidential election and has since recalled their ambassadors from Caracas in protest. Canada also imposed targeted sanctions on 14 Venezuelan officials in response to what they were calling “illegitimate and anti-democratic presidential elections”.
The fallout from Venezuela’s suspect elections continued, with the EU imposing sanctions on the country in response to the elections.The EU is reportedly preparing to impose more targeted sanctions against officials in the South American country and has made calls for there to be fresh Presidential elections. Reports suggest that the sanctions are expected to be formally adopted at a meeting on June 25 in Luxembourg.This is not the first time of late that the EU has imposed sanctions on the Latin American country. In January 2018, the EU introduced a travel ban and an asset freeze to seven Venezuelan individuals and in November 2017, it also imposed an arms embargo upon the country.
Further adding to Venezuela’s woes, the U.S. imposed further economic sanctions on the country in the week preceding the election. In the lead up to the elections, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio announced that “the world would support the armed forces in Venezuela if they decide to protect the people and restore democracy by removing a dictator” whilst Trump noted that “we have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option”.In response, Maduro expelled the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela and his deputy for allegedly conspiring against the socialist government and trying to sabotage the presidential election.
The Venezuelan Government did invited the UN to observe the process, however they refused the offer stating that by going it would ‘give a veneer of legality to a process that lacks it’. With calls continuing by the Opposition for fresh elections, the negative fallout from the elections looks likely to continue.