The opposition has won the parliamentary election in Venezuela. President Maduro recognized the defeat immediately and called for calm. In this sense, at least for now, he seems to follow the immediate response of his predecessor Hugo Chávez when the latter lost the referendum in 2007.
Over many years opinions inside and outside Venezuela have been widely divided on many aspects of the Chavista regime. One thing that has been less controversial is that the vote counting in the electoral process can be considered relatively reliable.
Other aspects of several elections have been questioned, and the lack of international observers casts some doubts on the transparency of the overall process. Nevertheless, the core parts of the vote counting system seem to have functioned well.
After the presidential election of 2013, an article published by Forbes, a paper not generally known for leftist sympathies, stated:
“Venezuela employs one of the most technologically advanced verifiable voting systems in the world, designed to protect voters from fraud and tampering and ensure the accuracy of the vote count. Accuracy and integrity are guaranteed from the minute voters walk into the polls to the point where a final tally is revealed.”
The first responses to the current election results seem to confirm the overall confidence in the vote counting system. It remains to be seen, though, what the final judgement will be on the reasons and relevance of some of the polling stations’ voting machines breaking down.
When accepting defeat, president Maduro said that constitution and democracy have triumphed. We are likely to see heated moments, as the government and the parliament will be controlled by opposed groups, but the first responses seem calmer than many had expected.