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Venezuela’s complicated elections will shape its political and economic future

10 de Mayo de 2018 - 11:46
20.2 million Venezuelans will vote on May 20.
Photo: EFE

Andes Agency interviewed three Venezuelan analysts who talked about Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election.

Quito, May 10 (Andes). – A total of 20.2 million citizens are registered to vote in Venezuela to elect the country’s president, members of legislative councils and indigenous representatives amid a complicated economic and political scenario in that South American nation.

Nicolas Maduro, candidate of the Frente Amplio governing party and current Venezuela’s president, will run against candidates Henri Falcon, from the Al Socialismo Movement (MAS) and Avanzada Progresista (AP); Reinaldo Quijada, from Unidad Politica Popular 89; Javier Bertucci, from ‘'Unidos por la Esperanza', and Luis Alejandro Ratti, who withdrew his candidacy to support Falcon.

The main contenders, according to polls, are Maduro, followed by Falcon and Bertucci. Hinterlaces, independent Venezuelan pollster, informed late April that its polls show that the Venezuelan president would win with 51% of votes and 71% of Venezuelans believe he would win elections in spite of their political views.

The poll shows that 18% of voters said Falcon would win elections compared to Bertucci’s 16% support.

Polls shared by candidates do not match with each other in terms of popular support for each one, although the majority of them suggest Falcon and Bertucci could run second.

Maduro has presented his ‘2019-2025 Plan for the Nation’ which includes proposals for the strengthening of public and free education, expansion and improvement of the public health system, construction of nearly five million houses and the promotion of Petro cryptocurrency, designed as a tool to solve economic problems his country faces amid a structural crisis and economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

Candidate of the governing party, Nicolás Maduro. Photo: EFE

Meanwhile, Falcon presented a government plan called “The Great Transformation” in which he promises a future dollarization of the Venezuelan economy, diversified national production, greater attention to public services and social assistance programs

Venezuelan political scientist Jose Gregorio Rodriguez told Andes Agency that if Maduro won, broader sanctions would be imposed by the United States, the European Union and even countries of the region and Venezuelans would continue to migrate.

About candidate Falcon’s proposal, Rodriguez, profesor at the Central University of Venezuela, stressed out that if there is poverty with bolívares (Venezuela’s currency) the same would occur with dollars as official currency. In addition, the US Federal Reserve would place conditions for money supply of dollars in the Venezuelan economy.

Candidate Henri Falcon, from Movimiento AI Socialismo (MAS) and Avanzada Progresista (AP). Photo: EFE

The Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA by its acronym in Spanish) signed an agreement by the end of March to observe elections with about 20 former judges and electoral experts.

The Venezuelan government has asked the United Nations Organization (UN), the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the African Union to send their international observers. For its part, Russia’s Central Electoral Commitment accepted the invitation and it will send a delegation to participate in elections, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Venezuelan political scientist Emilio Useche, from Universidad de los Andes, told Andes Agency that there are different important aspects to stand out in this electoral process including the Republic’s structural crisis, reflected in the State’s institutional breakdown caused by the fight for public power between the Supreme Court of Justice, National Assembly, Constituent Assembly and the Executive.

In addition, he said these elections are being held amid “the biggest crisis Venezuela has experienced,” for which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected an inflation of nearly 14,000% this year and a 15% reduction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

On this matter, Useche highlighted that these elections will not generate important short-term changes to the Venezuelan crisis. “Maduro will likely be reelected unless Falcon gets votes from abstentionists allowing him to win a majority,” he said.

About Maduro, the expert noted that the current Venezuelan president’s challenge is to modernize the country’s productive structure, eliminate exchange control, eradicate corruption and recognize that there is a belligerent opposition in the political competition.

“If Maduro is reelected, crisis would deepen, migration flows to the region would increase (…) I don’t consider it positive if Maduro wins,” said Useche.

Dollarizing Venezuela is a “delicate” matter, he said, and added that not even the Venezuelan society knows what this would imply.

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Javier Bertucci, from 'Unidos por la Esperanza'. Photo: EFE

The fight against corruption is Bertucci’s priority. He has a significant number of followers registered to vote. However, Useche does not believe this candidate gets many votes.

Venezuelan analyst Gustavo Borges told Andes Agency that Maduro and Falcon’s proposals are “completely antagonistic.”

At a geopolitical level, Venezuelan opposition sector’s common denominator is subordination to foreign agendas and mandates while Maduro follows Chavez’s legacy of autonomy, oil sovereignty and support to financial, political and energy blocs composed of members like Russia, China and Iran.

“Venezuela’s situation goes beyond the national scenario (…) if Maduro wins, Venezuela is probably the only country that could lead the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on the basis of multipolar relationship (…) if Falcon wins, Venezuela would be a country politically and economically supervised by the United States and the regional integration process would be cancelled,” said Borges, director of the web page on political analysis misionverdad.com.

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