(BBC) – President Nicolás Maduro’s party and allies have won in Venezuela’s legislative elections, boycotted by the main opposition parties.
With over 80% of ballots counted, his coalition had 67.6% of the vote, the National Electoral Council said.
The victory means that Mr Maduro now has total control of the country’s political institutions.
The boycott is being led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó who has been in a two-year power struggle with Mr Maduro.
An opposition bloc which broke the boycott and took part received 18% of the vote, and turnout was 31%, National Electoral Council (CNE) President Indira Alfonzo said.
What does the result mean?
The National Assembly, the only institution controlled by the opposition, will now be dominated by Mr Maduro’s party and others backing him.
The National Assembly, the legislative body which passes laws and approves the government’s budget, has long been a thorn in the side of the Maduro Administration.
So much so that in 2017 Mr Maduro convened a National Constituent Assembly, exclusively made up of his supporters.
While nominally created to draft a new constitution, the National Constituent Assembly, whose powers supersede those of the National Assembly, instead passed laws, side-lining the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
But the National Assembly retains a key role. Under Venezuela’s constitution, the government needs the National Assembly’s approval to ratify international treaties and to sign major contracts with foreign companies.
Once the new lawmakers are sworn in on 5 January 2021, the checks and balances which the National Assembly is supposed to provide will fall by the wayside.
The government may now be in control of the National Assembly but the low turnout was hardly a “win”.
Sure, there were people who cast their vote, some still clinging to the man in power, others citing their democratic right as well as many more fearful of repercussions like losing food handouts if they didn’t.
But for the most part, there’s an atmosphere of resignation. Most Venezuelans I’ve spoken to this past week saw little point in these elections and decided there were better things to be doing on Sunday.
The vast queues at petrol stations rather than the polling stations explain what you need to know about politics here – that Venezuelans just want to survive another day and for politics to just go away.
What does this mean for Juan Guaidó?
Juan Guaidó became the speaker of the National Assembly in 2019. He and his supporters argued that the 2018 re-election of Mr Maduro as president had been “neither free not fair” and that the presidency was therefore vacant.