Venezuela´s local elections are a starting point for opposition and power

The municipal and local elections in Venezuela on Sunday constitute a fulcrum for the regime of President Nicolas Maduro, which seeks to lift the sanctions imposed on his country, and for the opposition, which hopes for democratic presidential elections in 2024 ... and even before that.
21 million out of 30 million Venezuelans are expected to vote, as 70,000 candidates and 23 governors, mayors and councilors compete in 335 towns in Venezuela, which is facing an unprecedented economic crisis and hyperinflation.
According to observers and pollsters, the authority may benefit from the opposition's division.
The official in the authority, Diosdado Cabello, believes that “the (electoral) machine (…) is ready for us to win a great popular victory,” focusing on his ability to mobilize his supporters during the polls in one round in the face of the divided opposition.
"Let's be honest, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will win," says Henrique Capriles, who has won second place in the presidential election twice.
According to observers, the opposition may win a maximum of six states: Tachira, Zulia and Lara (west), Nova Asparta (island), Sucre and Anzoategui (east).
In the face of economic sanctions, especially from the United States, which wants to remove Maduro from power, Caracas is seeking to soften its position in order to give democratic guarantees "to lift the sanctions, even partially, especially the sanctions that weigh heavily on oil," according to political analyst Oswaldo Ramirez of the consulting firm ORC. .
Caracas, which has some of its funds frozen abroad, wants to be able to sell its oil more easily after it was mainly bought by the United States and import without difficulty.
The authority made concessions, opening the door to negotiations with the opposition, reforming the National Electoral Council to include opponents, and inviting observer missions from the European Union or the Carter Foundation.
The European Union will monitor the conduct of elections in Venezuela for the first time in 15 years. Caracas has ignored some statements that undermine its “sovereignty,” such as the statements of the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, which indicates that “the regime needs this mission” to give credibility to the vote, according to an opponent.
The authority may resume dialogue with the opposition if it wins, according to Oswaldo Ramirez.
The deeply divided opposition has changed its strategy, noting that it boycotted the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections in 2020. It
seeks to create a movement by mobilizing its frustrated groups ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, while opponents are skeptical.
Capriles called on Venezuelans to vote, saying "regardless of the outcome, we must regroup and revive all democratic forces."
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by fifty countries as acting president, will not vote, but he said, “Whether the vote is taken or not (...) is not a problem but an affirmation that Maduro was and will remain illegitimate,” noting the importance of “unifying the struggle.”
"Let us prepare for great elections, which will be a great victory for democracy, the constitution and republican freedom," Maduro said.
“There is no possibility of fraud in the tools (...), but coercion, persecution, bribery and unequal access to the media can occur,” said an election specialist who belongs to the opposition.
"We live in a dictatorship disguised as a democracy," said Fernando Andrade, a candidate in Tachira, denouncing an "unequal battle."
Juan Guaido stressed that "the game was not fair," adding, "We hope that the monitoring missions will provide a report (...) that clearly shows the violations."
"There is an improvement," said analyst Lueth Vicente Leon. The elections will not be democratic, transparent and competitive, but the government behaves differently with the opposition in the National Electoral Council and international observers.”

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