CARACAS—Venezuela’s opposition has won a crucial two-thirds majority in Sunday's legislative elections, with the final two seats they needed to give them a supermajority in the legislature confirmed Tuesday afternoon by the country’s electoral council.
By winning two-thirds of seats in the National Assembly the opposition coalition, known as MUD, can pass some laws unilaterally and enact a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office. It's a remarkable shift of power in a country whose legislature has been controlled by Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution for the past 17 years.
The magic number of seats needed for the supermajority was 112. On Tuesday afternoon, almost 48 hours after voting booths closed, electoral authorities confirmed the opposition clinched 112 seats, including the three reserved for indigenous communities. Throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning, the opposition had closely monitored the vote tallies for the last two seats.
Jose Huertas, an elections expert and voting monitor for the MUD, told Fusion on Tuesday morning that the opposition received an official results database on Monday night and it showed that one of the final two seats, located in the remote state of Amazonas, had already been won by MUD by almost 3,000 votes.
“It’s pretty clear we won there. I don’t understand why they haven’t announced that result yet,” Hoyos told Fusion Tuesday morning.
MUD’s 112th seat came from Aragua, an industrial state in central Venezuela. Data provided by the CNE late on Tuesday shows that MUD candidate Karin Salanova won there by a narrow margin of less than 100 votes.
Earlier on Tuesday Huertas had told Fusion that there were only four voting machines whose ballots had not been been tabulated in all of Aragua's District 3. Those machines were located in voting centers where the government candidate prevailed, but they did not reverse the vote.
With a two-thirds supermajority, MUD can create new congressional commissions, suspend lawmakers facing corruption charges, and appoint new electoral authorities. The coalition can also change the current Human Rights Ombudsman who has sided with the government on several critical issues, such as the closure of Venezuela’s border with Colombia.
“It’s a game-changer,” said Manuel Malaver a political analyst. “The fact that they got such an overwhelming majority of votes changes things a lot, because it tells the world that this country is currently governed by a [socialist] minority.”
An opposition supermajority might also lead to greater MUD control over economic policy.
“If Maduro insists on policies that the majority of the people don’t want, he could instead face a recall referendum,” Malaver said.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.