Venezuela’s socialist government has suffered a huge setback, with the opposition winning a majority of seats in the elections for the National Assembly. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) took 99 seats to just 46 for the United Social Party of Venezuela (PSUV), according to the country’s electoral council.
As the poll results started trickling in, President Nicolas Maduro accepted defeat, but pledged not to give up on the mission of deceased Hugo Chavez to create a socialist state. The socialist policies of Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chavez Frias has brought this oil-rich country to its knees.
The victorious opposition, a coalition of political partiess opposed to President Maduro’s PSUV, has vowed to free political prisoners and reforming the economy out of its disastrous condition. Coalition head Jesus Torrealba said lawmakers would even seek to modify the Central Bank Law to bring the inflation under control.
According to the World Bank, Venezuela’s GDP shrank more than 10 percent this year and is on course to slide another 6 percent in 2016. More than anything else, inflation and unemployment are soaring. With the country suffering from chronic shortages of some basic goods, people must queue in hours-long lines for groceries and other essential goods.
A study by polling firm Datanalisis suggests that Venezuelans spend on average five hours per trip buying groceries and visit up to four different stores to find products.
Venezuela has larger oil reserve than that of Saudi Arabia. Oil accounts for more than 90% of the country’s export revenues. But the socialist country has spent most of its income on its populist social welfare schemes. Today oil is being traded for less than $50 a barrel, but Venezuela cannot afford to sell its heavy, difficult to refine oil at below $80 a barrel.
When global oil prices crashed, President Nicolas Maduro toured the OPEC countries, calling on member states to cut back on production. But they refused. In the following months, as the oil continued to trade at rock bottom prices, the Venezuelan economy slipped deeper into recession.
But President Nicolas Maduro went on blaming the poor state of the economy on the opposition and the United States. He even accused Spain and Colombia, as well as some private firms, of trying to topple his administration.
But blaming others was not an answer people expected of him. Tired of standing in queues for basic goods, and sufering skyrocketing crime, they voted for the opposition.