Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Venezuela's left awaits huge win: "Venezuela's left awaits huge win
Greg Morsbach in Caracas
Tuesday December 6, 2005
The leftwing political parties allied to Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, were yesterday heading for what many predicted would be a clean sweep in the national legislative assembly elections.
If confirmed by final official results, Mr Chavez, Latin America's champion of the left, will be in a strong position to change the constitution and ensure that he can carry on running in presidential elections for many years to come. Party bosses close to Mr Chavez said they were sure the leftwing bloc in parliament had taken all the 167 seats in the national assembly.
The congressional elections were marred by a high abstention rate, with three-quarters of voters staying at home. Most opposition parties had called for a boycott of the polls because of what they regarded as fraudulent voting machines.
The government dismissed concerns about the legitimacy of a parliament based on the vote of only a quarter of the electorate. In a statement, it reminded the international press that 'the abstention rate in US parliamentary elections ranged between 60% and 70%, when carried out separately from presidential elections'.
In a news conference yesterday, the foreign minister, Ali Rodriguez-Araque, said the opposition had been plotting with the Bush administration to scupper the democratic process. He even went one step further: 'We have evidence there are concrete plans by the imperialist US to launch an attack against Venezuela.'"