The abysmal turnout at Venezuela’s presidential election on Sunday, with absenteeism at its highest rate in the country’s history (46%), has further weakened the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The main opposition force, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), called for a boycott of the vote for lacking proper guarantees, leaving Maduro to take an overwhelming victory – one that was only recognized as legitimate by the government. Maduro’s rivals Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci demanded a repeat election, although the former later conceded defeat. The results mean that Maduro will continue as president of Venezuela until 2025. According to officials, Maduro won with 6.2 million votes, outperforming his closest rival Falcón, who received 1.9 million votes. It was a victory in a campaign marked by indifference and an election day during which more than half the electorate (a total of nine million) decided not to vote, believing the opposition’s argument that the polls, announced at the beginning of the year, would be fixed in favor of the authorities.
Maduro tried to encourage voting by telling the people: “Your vote decides, [will it be] votes or bullets, peace or violence?” But even the government-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) agreed that it was the worst turnout in an election of its kind.
Despite this, Maduro, the successor of former president Hugo Chavéz, appeared before thousands of supporters to celebrate the “permanent victory of the people.” Yesterday, his Minister of Communication and Information Jorge Rodríguez, and the president of the controversial National Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodríguez, were working hard to prove that the voter turnout was not that bad, comparing Venezuela’s figures to neighboring countries such as Colombia and the United States.