MS Risk Blog

Venezuela Election Update: Turmoil Continues

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The company that provided the voting system in Venezuela alleged on 2 August that turnout numbers for the Sunday 30 July vote in the country have been “tampered with.”

The announcement comes after Venezuela’s electoral authorities announced that more than eight million people voted in the elections for a new constituent assembly. CEO of Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, has disputed this figure, stating that the actual turnout differed by at least one million. The opposition has also stated that the figures were inflated.

Speaking during a news conference in London, Mr Mugica disclosed “it is with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout numbers on Sunday 30th July for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela wer tampered with,” adding that although the company’s system had recorded the true number of voters, a full audit would have to take place before he could give the precise figure. Asked why he had not contacted the Venezuelan authorities, Mr Mugica replied stating that he though they “would not be sympathetic to what we’d say.” Smartmatic had provided the country with about 24,000 machines for Venezuelans to cast their votes electronically. According to the company, their system supplied correct voting statistics however altered results were announced in their place.

During the vote, Venezuelans were asked to select more than 500 representatives to make up a constituent assembly. The new body has the power to rewrite the constitution, effectively side-lining the opposition-led Congress. President Nicolas Maduro argued that the constituent assembly would promote “reconciliation and peace” after months of crisis,” however the opposition, which boycotted the vote, has seen it as a power grab by the president. Turnout is seen as crucial in the vote as given that the opposition refused to field candidates, the figure gives an indication of support for the government.

In the wake of Sunday’s vote, the country remains in political and economic turmoil. Tumbling oil prices have hit social programmes hard and scores of people have been killed while protesting against the government. Despite the unrest, the government retains the crucial support of the armed forces.