2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election

Venezuelan parliamentary election, 2015

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All 167 seats in the National Assembly[1]
84 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 74.17%
  First party Second party
  Henry Ramos Allup Portrait.jpg Diosdado Cabello 2013.jpg
Leader Henry Ramos Allup Diosdado Cabello
Party AD PSUV
Alliance MUD GPP
Leader since 2014[2] 2008
Leader's seat Capital District Monagas
Last election 64 seats, 47.2% 99 seats, 48.2%
Seats won 109[3] 55[3]
Seat change Increase 45 Decrease 41
Popular vote 7,728,025 5,625,248
Percentage 56.2% 40.9%
Swing Increase 9.0 pp Decrease 7.3 pp

Venezuela2015bycircuit.png
Results by electoral districts. Blue denotes districts won by the MUD, Red denotes those won by the PSUV.

President of the NA before election

Diosdado Cabello
PSUV

President of the NA

Henry Ramos Allup[4]
AD

Parliamentary elections were held in Venezuela on 6 December 2015 to elect the 164 deputies and three indigenous representatives of the National Assembly. They were the fourth parliamentary elections to take place after the 1999 constitution, which abolished the bicameral system in favour of a unicameral parliament, and the first to take place after the death of President Hugo Chávez. Despite claims from the opposition of a possible last-minute cancellation, the elections took place as scheduled, with the majority of polls showing the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) holding a wide lead over the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its wider alliance, the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP).

The political landscape leading up to the elections was heavily influenced by the severe economic crisis faced by the country, as well as a series of protests that took place in 2014, after which former Chacao mayor and leader of Popular Will, Leopoldo López, was detained and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The scarcity of basic goods and high inflation were the central topics of discussion, with each party blaming their opponent as the cause. Introducing economic policies to counter the crisis, as well as granting amnesty to political prisoners, was the main campaign pledge of the MUD. The ruling PSUV, on the other hand, ran a campaign focused on overcoming what they called an "economic war" led by the right-wing against the Venezuelan people, as well as defending the legacy of Chávez and the social policies introduced during his presidency.

The result was a decisive defeat for the PSUV, which lost control of the Assembly for the first time since 1999. The MUD, composed of politicians opposed to the government of both Chávez and his successor, won 109 seats, and with the support of the three indigenous representatives, gained a supermajority of 112 seats against 55 won by the GPP. In terms of popular vote, the MUD received 7.7 million votes, an increase of 2.4 million from the 2010 elections, becoming the most voted party in Venezuelan electoral history. In comparison, the GPP only managed to gain an additional 200,000 votes.

Background

Since the 1999 Constitutional Assembly elections, the National Assembly was dominated by alliances supportive of President Hugo Chávez. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, most opposition parties decided to withdraw, resulting in all seats being won by the Fifth Republic Movement and other parties supportive of Chávez. For the 2010 elections, an alliance of opposition parties was formed by the Democratic Unity Roundtable to contest the elections, and managed to win 64 seats. The PSUV, which was an alliance formed by Chávez from the Fifth Republic Movement and a number of smaller parties, won 96 seats, maintaining their majority, but lost their two-thirds and three-fifths supermajority. Fatherland for All, a small left-wing party, won two seats.[5] After Chávez's death in 2013, his hand-picked successor Maduro was narrowly elected president, continuing Chávez' ideological influence.[6] In 2015, the Democratic Unity Roundtable alliance aimed to improve its result from last time and end the incumbent PSUV government,[7] while Maduro said he had faith in the voters giving the government a large majority.[8]

Protests

In 2014, a series of protests and demonstrations began in Venezuela. The protests have been attributed to inflation, violence and shortages in Venezuela. The protests have been largely peaceful,[9] though some have escalated and resulted in violence from both protesters and government forces. The government has accused the protests of being motivated by 'fascists' opposition leaders, capitalism and foreign influence,[10] and has itself been accused of censorship, supporting groups called colectivos using violence against protesters and politically motivated arrests.[11]

Electoral system

Starting from 2015, the 167 members of the National Assembly are elected by a mixed majoritarian system; 113 members are elected by First-past-the-post voting in 87 constituencies. A total of 51 seats are elected by closed list proportional representation based on the 23 states and the Capital District. Seats are allocated using the d'Hondt method. The remaining three seats are reserved for indigenous peoples, and are elected by the community.[12]

The opposition coalition held primaries on 17 May in 33 of the 87 electoral districts, choosing candidates for 42 seats; 125 additional candidates are expected to be hand-picked by 'consensus' among party leaders,[13] though the rules were later changed to require 40% of opposition candidates to be women and barred some popular opposition candidates from running, a move that experts called unconstitutional.[14] The PSUV held primaries in all 87 electoral districts on 28 June with the Bolivarian government stating there was a participation of 3,162,400 voters,[15] though some observing the primaries noticed a large decrease of voters to less than 1 million participating, or about 10% of PSUV members.[14]

Conduct

Leading up to the elections, serious issues have been raised about its fairness and credibility.[16] On 10 October 2015, Brazil pulled out of a UNASUR electoral mission to observe the Venezuelan election over what it said a lack of guarantees by the socialist government and its veto of the choice to head the delegation.[17] In a statement on 10 November 2015, Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro condemned Venezuela's electoral process, explaining that the ruling party, PSUV, has an unfair advantage with its ability to use public assets, media access, creating dubious voting sheets and by disqualifying opposition politicians, stating that "It's worrying that ... the difficulties only impact the opposition parties".[18]

After the election, the opposition MUD coalition was accused of vote-buying in the state of Amazonas.[19] The Supreme Court suspended all four Amazonas delegates (one Socialist and three opposition).[20] As of May 2018, these claims have not been proven.[21]

Opinion polls

Graphical summary

Poll results are listed in the tables below in chronological order and using the date the survey's fieldwork was done, as opposed to the date of publication. If such date is unknown, the date of publication is given instead. The highest percentage figure in each polling survey is displayed in bold, and the background shaded in the leading party's colour.

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
PSUV/GPP MUD Others/
Independent
Undecided/
Don't know
IVAD[22][23] 29 September 2014 800 27.6% 45.2% 27.2%
Consultores 21[23] 21 September – 2 October 2014 1000 33% 48%
Datanálisis[24] October 2014 1293 21.0% 38.9% 12.9% 17.5%
Datanálisis[24] November 2014 1300 18.8% 39.8% 15.5% 17.5%
VARIANZAS[25][26] 8–23 December 2014 1200 30.3% 43.9% 4.9% [note 1] 20.9 [note 2]
Datanálisis[24] January 2015 1000 17.3% 45.9% 13.8% 17.4%
Keller y Asociados[27] January 2015 1200 44% 56%
Meganalisis[28] 25 January 2015 21.0% 29.0% 26.8%
Datanálisis[29] February 2015 ? 22.5% 59.6% 17.9%
ICS[30] 10–20 February 2015 1300 43.6% 31.6% 24.8%
DatinCorp[31] 8 February 2015 1200 23.83% 47.83% 17%[note 3]
Datanálisis[24][32] March 2015 1000 19.0% 42.6% 8.8% 21.3%
Keller y Asociados[33] 26 February – 13 March 2015 1200 31% 42% 11% 16%
Datanálisis[24] April 2015 1000 25.0% 45.8% 6.5% 16.5%
VARIANZAS[34] 19 March – 2 April 2015 1200 33.7% 46.1% 7.8% 12.5%
UCAB/Delphos[35] 10–25 April 2015 1200 15.5% 39.2% 45.7% [note 4]
Hercón[36] 1–15 May 2015 1200 28% 52% 19.8% [note 5]
DatinCorp[37] May 2015 1200 18% 48% 21% 14%[note 3]
Datanálisis[38] 18–30 May 2015 1000 21.3% 40.1% 10.0% 28.6%
Meganalisis[28] 30 May 2015 19.5% 17.6% 28.7%
IVAD[39] 28 May – 11 June 2015 1200 20.8% 32.6% 27.6 19% [note 6]
Datanálisis[40] June 2015 ? 27% 61% 12%
Hercón[41] 20–27 June 2015 2000 28.1% 61.1% 10.5%
ICS[42] 6–27 July 2015 8000
(500 per state)
45.3% 37.6% 17.1%
Datanálisis[24][43] 10–23 July 2015 999 19.2% 42.2% 11.8% 17.5%
DatinCorp[44] July 2015 1197 20% 42% 14% 23% [note 7]
Meganalisis[45] August 2015 16.3% 42.4% 13.0%
IVAD[46] 8–16 August 2015 1200 19.3% 57.9% 22.8%
Keller y Asociados[47] 19 August – 5 September 2015 1200 27% 53% 11% 9%
Datanálisis[48] September 2015 21% 44% 35%
DatinCorp[49] September 2015 20% 53%
Delphos September 2015 20% 50% 20% 10%
Meganalisis[45] September 2015 26.7% 37.6% 35.7%
Venebarómetro/IVAD[50] 5–15 September 2015 1200 17.1% 38.3% 28.0% 16.7%
Hercon[51] 13–16 September 2015 1000 22.3% 60.1% 13.0% 4.6%
Consultores 21[52] 4–20 September 2015 - 35.8% 57.8% 3.7%
Hercon[53] 5–20 September 2015 1200 30.3% 62.3% 7.3%
Consultores 21[54] October 2015 - 34% 55%
Datanálisis[55] October 2015 28.2% 63.2%
DatinCorp[56] October 2015 20% 47%
DatinCorp[57] October 2015 39% 56%
IVAD[58] October 2015 22.1% 41.8% [note 1]
Venebarómetro[59] 11 October 2015 19,9% 43.7% 26.5%
Keller y Asociados[60] 5–15 November 2015 1200 25% 59% 11% 6%
IVAD[61] 10–20 November 2015 1200 27.8% 43.0% 11.3% 17.8%
Venebarómetro[62] 8–22 November 2015 1200 27.6% 42.7% 11.1% 18.7%
Hercón[63] 10–25 November 2015 1200 31.6% 60.1% 8.2%
Meganalisis[64] 18–26 November 2015 1200 28% 63% 6% 3%

Results

The MUD won 109 of the 164 general seats and all three indigenous seats, which gave them a supermajority in the National Assembly; while the GPP won the remaining 55 seats. Voter turnout exceeded 70 percent.[65]

Results of the list vote by state.
Asamblea Nacional Venezuela 2015.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/–


Popular vote
MUD
56.21%
PSUV
40.92%
Others
2.87%
Seats in the National Assembly
MUD
65.27%
GPP
32.93%
Indigenous
1.80%

Results of list vote by state

The following table records the official list vote tallies for each state for those alliances which were listed on ballots. State popular vote results are from the official CNE page. The column labeled "Margin" shows the MUD's margin of victory over the GPP (the margin is negative for states won by the GPP).

States/districts won by the MUD
States/districts won by the GPP
MUD GPP Others Margin State total
State # % # % # % # % #
Capital District 662,926 57.23% 460,871 39.79% 34,443 2.97% 202,055 17.45% 1,158,240
Amazonas 33,069 49.81% 30,868 46.49% 2,447 3.69% 2,201 3.32% 66,384
Anzoátegui 451,973 59.34% 288,789 37.91% 20,890 2.74% 163,184 21.43% 761,652
Apure 93,666 44.79% 110,834 53.00% 4,611 2.21% -17,168 -8.21% 209,111
Aragua 468,964 54.07% 375,304 43.27% 22,975 2.75% 94,660 10.80% 867,243
Barinas 217,630 55.68% 166,471 42.59% 6,694 1.71% 51,159 13.09% 390,795
Bolívar 387,771 59.57% 242,849 37.30% 20,309 3.12% 144,922 22.26% 650,929
Carabobo 644,642 58.57% 439,195 39.91% 16,619 1.51% 205,447 18.67% 1,100,456
Cojedes 77,395 46.39% 87,585 52.50% 1,826 1.09% -10,190 -6.11% 166,806
Delta Amacuro 27,087 36.20% 43,813 58.55% 3,922 5.24% -16,726 -22.35% 74,822
Falcón 252,620 54.14% 196,425 42.10% 17,484 3.75% 56,195 12.05% 466,529
Guárico 168,934 48.35% 175,857 50.33% 4,588 1.31% -6,923 -1.98% 349,379
Lara 504,122 54.67% 388,685 42.15% 29,184 3.17% 115,437 12.52% 921,991
Mérida 280,251 63.33% 145,585 32.89% 16,676 3.77% 134,666 30.43% 442,512
Miranda 838,292 58.96% 546,718 38.45% 36,762 2.59% 291,574 20.51% 1,421,772
Monagas 227,635 51.55% 201,182 45.56% 12,705 2.88% 26,453 5.99% 441,522
Nueva Esparta 151,122 60.89% 93,365 37.62% 3,692 1.49% 57,757 23.27% 248,179
Portuguesa 186,905 43.96% 228,409 53.72% 9,833 2.31% -41,504 -9.76% 424,774
Sucre 201,753 49.04% 196,080 47.66% 13,548 3.29% 5,673 1.38% 411,381
Táchira 392,709 65.55% 175,103 29.23% 31,229 5.21% 217,606 36.33% 599,041
Trujillo 180,300 49.48% 168,503 46.25% 15,525 4.26% 11,797 3.24% 364,328
Vargas 99,734 52.27% 85,453 44.78% 5,609 2.94% 14,281 7.48% 190,796
Yaracuy 148,481 48.09% 156,601 50.71% 3,674 1.19% -8,120 -2.63% 308,756
Zulia 1,030,044 60.24% 620,703 36.30% 58,932 3.45% 409,341 23.94% 1,709,679
Totals: 7,728,025 56.21% 5,625,248 40.92% 394,177 2.87% 2,102,777 15.30% 13,747,450

Reactions

Domestic

According to the Associated Press, celebrations and fireworks could be heard in the streets of Caracas following the MUD victory.[66] In a speech following the results, President Maduro acknowledged his party's defeat, saying that, despite these "adverse results", Venezuela's democracy and constitution had triumphed; while calling for peace, re-evaluation, he attributed the opposition's victory to an intensification of the "economic war".[66][67] A defiant Maduro said he would give no quarter to the Venezuelan opposition in spite of his own party’s crushing defeat in last weekend’s mid-term parliamentary elections. Maduro vowed to block “the counter-revolutionary right” from taking over the country. “We won’t let it,” he said.[68] The leader of the MUD, Jesús Torrealba, told supporters after their party's victory that "The country wants change and that change is beginning today".[66] Henrique Capriles Radonski, a leading opposition politician, stated "The results are as we hoped. Venezuela has won. It's irreversible".[67]

A little over a week after the elections on 15 December 2015, the outgoing National Assembly created the "National Communal Parliament" with President Maduro stating "I'm going to give all the power to the communal parliament ... This parliament is going to be a legislative mechanism from the grassroots. All power to the Communal parliament".[69] The move was described as an attempt "to sideline and leapfrog the incoming opposition-controlled National Assembly" and that such actions could possibly lead to more destability and polarization in Venezuela for the future.[70]

International

Venezuelan bonds grew across the board about one to three cents after the announcement of MUD's victory in the elections, with one researcher at Exotix brokerage stating, "It's better than we expected. Polls suggested a victory but whether that translated into seats was another question. Also, (the government) seem to have accepted the result".[71]

Mauricio Macri, president elect of Argentina, had announced that he would request to remove Venezuela from Mercosur, as the government was not respecting democratic doctrines. He declined this plan when Maduro acknowledged the defeat of his party.[72] However, a year after the election, on 1 December 2016, Venezuela was suspended from Mercosur.[73]