Venezuela’s opposition parties have won a majority in the country’s legislature for the first time in nearly two decades, dealing a severe blow to the ruling socialist party, the New York Times reports.
Public approval of President Nicolas Maduro, leader of the socialists and the successor to former strongman Hugo Chavez, has plunged amid an economic crisis in Venezuela. Leaders of the opposition said voters were seeking a new direction after months of inflation, food shortages, and surging crime rates.
The Times reports:
Tibisay Lucena, the head of the electoral commission, announced about 12:30 a.m. Monday that the opposition, represented by the Democratic Unity coalition, had won 99 seats and that the government’s United Socialist Party had won 46 seats. She said final results were not in for 22 seats.
"Change has started today in Venezuela," said Jesús Torrealba, the head of the Democratic Unity coalition. […]
Before the results were announced, a stage that had been set up in central Caracas for a government party celebration was taken down.
"We have come with our morality and our ethics to recognize these adverse results, to accept them and to tell our Venezuela, ‘The Constitution and democracy have triumphed,’ " Mr. Maduro said, appearing on television immediately after Ms. Lucena announced the outcome of the election.
Given Maduro’s constant anti-American rhetoric and resistance to U.S. counternarcotics and counterterrorism efforts, the opposition victory could be welcome news for the United States. But Maduro has also warned against a "counterrevolution" in the country and could use aggressive and violent means to cling to power if lawmakers attempt to oust him.