Venezuela’s regional elections were an “improvement” over previous elections, but did not meet “democratic expectations,” the Spanish government estimated on Wednesday, a day after the European Union’s observation mission made a similar assessment.
“The regional and municipal elections held on November 21 in Venezuela did not live up to democratic expectations even assuming an improvement over previous calls,” the statement from the State Department said.
The left-wing government of Pedro Sánchez repeated the preliminary results of the European Union mission in the elections that toppled the ruling party of Nicolas Maduro and heralded the return of much of the opposition to the polls. There have been “significant improvements…but they have not been enough as serious shortcomings persist”.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday evening that President Maduro’s administration had expressed its “deep disappointment at the Spanish statement”.
In a statement, Caracas rejected “this unfortunate statement that intermittently insists on maintaining a position bent on Washington’s interests” and urged “the Kingdom of Spain to correct this exhausted position condemned to the most severe failures.”
The EU mission listed irregularities such as an official campaign that used public resources, arbitrary disqualification of candidates, or placement of party checkpoints at polling stations.
“Spain calls on the Venezuelan authorities to put an end to these practices (…) and to quickly resume negotiations with the opposition to ensure that the upcoming presidential elections are completely free and competitive,” the statement said.
Madrid appreciated the opposition’s participation in these elections and expressed its “willingness to work with the various actors in the electoral system to comply with the recommendations” of the European Union mission, which returned to work in the Venezuelan elections after 15 years.
Despite the recurring tensions with Caracas in recent times, the Spanish government asserts that it supports dialogue between the Maduro regime and the opposition with the aim of trying to overcome the protracted political and economic crisis in the South American country.
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