Mérida, 26th May 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The wives of two opposition mayors jailed for refusing to act against militant opposition street barricades have won the municipal by-elections to replace their husbands in two western Venezuelan cities.
In San Diego, Carabobo state, Rosa de Scarano won with 87.74% of the vote on a turnout of 63%, compared with December 2013 when her husband Enzo Scarano won with 75.24% on a turnout of 65%.
In San Cristobal, Tachira state, Patricia de Ceballos won with 73.6% of the vote on a turnout of 59%. Last December her husband Daniel Ceballos was elected with 67.67% on a turnout of 60.5%.
The elections were triggered after the mayors of San Diego and San Cristobal were sentenced in March to ten and a half and twelve month prison sentences respectively for their refusal to act upon a Supreme Court order to dismantle hard-line opposition street barricades in their municipalities.
After Sunday’s election results were announced, the opposition’s Democratic Unity Table (MUD) coalition released a statement which said, “The result of these elections have shown that power and abuse have been taught a great lesson…although [the government] tries to use justice as an instrument of political persecution, Venezuelans are determined not to cede ground”.
Meanwhile Jorge Rodriguez, mayor of central Caracas and a leader of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), responded by recognising the defeat for the pro-government candidates, congratulating those newly elected, and advising that the new mayoral authorities “don’t return to violence”.
“We should read in these results the lesson they give all political factions, above all to the sector of the opposition that always tends to go outside of democratic rules, and resorts to violence and methods outside of the vote to get into power,” he continued.
A commentator on pro-government independent website Aporrea, Neri La Cruz, blamed the PSUV and the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP, the pro-government coalition) for the poor result.
La Cruz argued that the GPP tried to fight the elections by applying national electoral campaign tactics such as mobilizing party supporters and communities that traditionally support the Bolivarian process, as if the municipalities being contested were urban and rural strongholds of government support, rather than wealthier areas that are “bastions of the radical opposition”.
He also claimed that weak candidates with little support from political allies or the local community were chosen, choices which did not recognise the special context of the by-elections.
The commentator argued that the lessons of the results must be taken into account during the PSUV national congress in July, saying that this could “lead to a fruitful discussion which opens the compass towards [the taking of] correct decisions by the revolution”.