South America

Venezuela's Opposition Party Wins Majority Of National Assembly

Venezuela's opposition party has taken control of the National Assembly from the socialist party, a first since the 1990s. But what's the next move?

Venezuela's Opposition Party Wins Majority Of National Assembly
Getty Images / John Moore

For the first time since the 1990s, Venezuela's opposition party has captured the majority in the National Assembly.

In elections held Sunday, the Democratic Unity Roundtable grabbed 99 seats, compared to just 46 for the previously ruling United Social Party of Venezuela. (Video via TeleSur)

The party faces an uphill battle. The Venezuelan economy is largely dependent on oil, deriving 95 percent of its exports from oil and gas, according to OPEC. Dropping oil prices hit the country especially hard, causing hyperinflation and a 10 percent contraction in the country's economy.

And the former ruling socialist party may take the election's result as more of a suggestion to leave office. President Nicolas Maduro said in a campaign speech, "I know we are going to triumph, but if there are negative circumstances, I will go to the streets and fight with the people." And it's not just empty talk. (Video via Venezolana de Televisiòn)

Political dissenters had also been consistently stifled. One opposition leader was gunned down at a rally in November, and another received a 14-year jail sentence for allegedly inciting violence, a conviction that's drawn criticism from international human rights groups like Human Rights Watch. (Video via Univision)

And some third-party groups that monitor elections, like the Organization of American States, had been barred from vetting the fairness of the vote.

Maduro's presidential term runs until 2019, so it could be difficult to get anything done with one party controlling the legislative branch while another holds the highest executive office. But he could be ousted with a referendum vote as early as 2016. 

Even if Maduro is removed next year, that still leaves the opposition party with a lot of work to do in fixing the economy, work it may not be equipped for. 

The Washington Post reported members of the opposition are worried they "haven't succeeded in uniting around a common vision on how to govern, beyond confronting Maduro."

This video includes images from Getty Images.