The EU Ombudsman said that compared with the country’s recent elections, Venezuela’s regional elections last weekend were held under better conditions, but were harmed by the use of public funds to benefit pro-government candidates.
When submitting preliminary findings after observing the entire South American country’s election campaign, the European Union said that Sunday’s election was also affected by the disqualification of opposition candidates and shooting incidents near polling stations.
“The regional and municipal elections on November 21 are the first and crucial test for the return of most opposition parties to Venezuela’s elections,” said the organization’s preliminary report in the capital, Caracas. “The electoral process shows that structural flaws persist, although the election conditions have improved compared with the previous three national elections.”
Venezuela’s main opposition party participated in the election on Sunday for the first time since 2017. But no matter who wins and who loses, many people think that this election is a test of the country’s electoral system — a long-standing reputation for irregularities, including the National Election Commission’s decision to disqualify the political party and some of the most popular opposition parties. candidate.
Promoted by formal negotiations between the representative of President Nicolas Maduro and his opponents, the European Union earlier this year accepted the invitation of Venezuelan officials to send election observers, meeting the demands of the opposition. But these negotiations were suspended last month.
Approximately 8.15 million of the country’s 21 million registered voters voted in more than 3,000 elections, including for governor and mayor.
The report submitted to reporters by Isabel Santos, head of the EU delegation, highlights a series of violations that affect the level playing field.
Observers also stated that they have witnessed the establishment of so-called red checkpoints, the tents used by the ruling party to control voters. Checkpoints near polling stations are usually run by allies of the ruling party, who ask people to check the cards they get from the government for food and other aid.
According to a report by the European Union, “across the country, except Amazon State, abuse of auxiliary voting has been discovered.” The report also pointed out that in a shooting outside a polling center in the western United States, one voter died and two people were killed. Hurt. Suria. Observers attended 665 polling centers in 23 states and the capital region of the country.
The Venezuelan National Assembly, with a majority supporting Maduro, appointed two prominent opponents as members of the leadership of the National Electoral Commission in May. One of the activists was imprisoned on charges of participating in destabilizing the government. This marked the first time since 2005 that the Venezuelan opposition had more than one member on the board of a five-member electoral body.
Santos described the council as “the most balanced of the past 20 years.”
Observers said they will submit an in-depth report early next year.
In August, representatives of the Maduro government and the allies of the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó began a formal dialogue. Under the guidance of a Norwegian diplomat, it was hosted by Mexico to find a common ground to overcome the political deadlock in the country. the way.
By the end of the month, the decision of the opposition party to participate in the election was announced. For several months, Maduro’s representatives have also had behind-the-scenes talks with allies of former opposition presidential candidate Enrique Capriles.
These negotiations were suspended after Maduro’s main ally was extradited from Cape Verde to the United States last month and faced money laundering charges.
After the preliminary election results on Sunday were announced, Maduro called on the winners and losers to participate in a “political dialogue.” However, he had said earlier that he could not resume formal dialogue with the opposition at this time.
Santos said on Tuesday that fair elections and formal dialogue are necessary for the country’s future.
“In a comprehensive legal dialogue process, only Venezuelans can determine the future of their country,” she said.