Venezuela’s opposition boycotted a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday for governors following the disputed elections which was largely won by ruling party candidates. Eighteen new socialist governors pledged to uphold Venezuela’s constitution in the ceremony, while notably absent were the five opposition candidates who won seats in Sunday’s regional elections. The opposition’s alliance said earlier in the day that it would boycott the session before a body they consider unconstitutional. President Nicolas Maduro warned before the vote that any new governors would have to take an oath and “submit” to the constitutional assembly — an act opposition candidates said they would never do.
The announcement that socialist party candidates won 18 of 23 governor races shocked an opposition that had expected to win more seats during a time of economic crisis and when polls indicated most Venezuelans disapproved of the government.
Opposition leader Freddy Guevara stated that the results should “provoke a review and self-critique.”According to Guevara, more than 1 million Venezuelans couldn’t vote because of polling site problems. The opposition also believes the electoral council’s keeping no longer active candidates who lost in a primary on ballots hurt their numbers.
Nicmer Evans, a leftist political scientist, said the opposition struggled with a contradictory message: It had been urging Venezuelans to protest a government they called a dictatorship, and weeks later called on them to take part in a vote organized by the system that they had just said was illegitimate. “It’s a problem of trust in the opposition’s leadership,” said Evans.