This is a historical moment for Venezuela. Millions of Venezuelans have headed to the polls today to vote in legislative elections in which, for the first time in fifteen years, the ruling Chavista coalition is predicted to lose its majority in the National Assembly. WOLA Senior Fellow David Smilde and Venezuelan pollster and political analyst Luis Vicente León take a look at what this could mean for the country’s polarized political climate.
For León, this could be the beginning of important changes in the country, but he believes that the Venezuelan opposition risks creating “a false expectation” by using a potential majority to bypass negotiation with the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. He also highlights the strengths of Venezuela’s “ironclad” electronic voting system and its associated Smartmatic technology.
For Smilde, this is a key “turning point” for Venezuela. According to him, the loss of a legislative majority in Venezuela for the ruling party could mean that the country might see more dialogue and compromise on major issues like inflation and scarcity. Smilde also looks at the role of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) electoral accompaniment mission and the major variable outcomes in today’s elections: whether the opposition will in fact receive a sizeable majority and what that would mean for the polarized political climate.