Philadelphia, December 17th 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday that authorities are opening an investigation into the nearly one and a half million blank votes cast in this month’s parliamentary elections which saw a trouncing defeat for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
The PSUV has, for its part, solicited an investigation into allegations of vote buying following the release reported evidence of opposition leaders engaging in vote buying on election day.
Speaking on his weekly television program, the president indicated that the investigation was prompted by the irregularly high quantity of blank votes in a regional election, particularly in districts historically won by the PSUV.
“Some comrades have told me that in a district within a state normally won by Chavismo, a candidate of ours lost by 82 votes with some 16,000 null votes,” he stated.
PSUV leaders have in particular pointed to Amazonas as the site of reported irregularities, calling for investigation of allegations of opposition vote buying. In winning the indigenous representative in the southern border state, the opposition sealed its two-thirds majority.
In a recent audio recording released by the state-run television station VTV, a woman alleged to be Victoria Franchi, secretary for the opposition-controlled governorship in Amazonas, discusses paying voters “2,000 Bolívars each one” to vote for the opposition.
In a conversation with an undercover agent, the women alleged to be a regional opposition leader can be heard planning to pay “Indians” and “old women who say they don’t know how to vote” to vote for the opposition, referring presumably to indigenous people and elderly illiterate women.
Following the allegations, Victoria Franchi was detained for questioning by Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN).
In another instance of alleged vote buying, a video has emerged featuring the opposition mayor of Maracaibo, Eveling Trejo, distributing cash from a truck to gathered young people in what appears to be a post-election victory street celebration.
There is, however, no evidence released thus far directly linking the politician’s cash hand-out with vote buying.
In the lead-up to December 6 parliamentary elections, international media were abuzz with unfounded allegations regarding possible fraud by the government. These rumors were immediately dispelled following the opposition’s landslide triumph and President Maduro’s instant recognition of the results.
International English-language media has yet to report on the PSUV’s allegations of possible irregularities.