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With confirmed supermajority, Venezuela's opposition meets to discuss future

Venezuela's next presidential election is scheduled for April 2019.

By Andrew V. Pestano
Democratic Unity Roundtable leader Jesus "Chuo" Torrealba announced all 112 newly-elected National Assembly opposition coalition members will meet in Caracas on Thursday. Venezuela's National Electoral Council, or CNE, announced late Tuesday that the MUD reached the coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority in the unicameral National Assembly with 112 seats. Photo courtesy of Mesa de la Unidad Democrática
Democratic Unity Roundtable leader Jesus "Chuo" Torrealba announced all 112 newly-elected National Assembly opposition coalition members will meet in Caracas on Thursday. Venezuela's National Electoral Council, or CNE, announced late Tuesday that the MUD reached the coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority in the unicameral National Assembly with 112 seats. Photo courtesy of Mesa de la Unidad Democrática

CARACAS, Venezuela, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Venezuela's Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition will hold a meeting in Caracas on Thursday with all of its 112 newly-elected National Assembly members after reaching a historic qualified majority, or supermajority.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, will call in the elected parliament representatives into Caracas to discuss the structure of the National Assembly and how to prioritize Venezuela's economic and social agenda, MUD opposition leader Jesus "Chuo" Torrealba said Wednesday.

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Venezuela's National Electoral Council, or CNE, announced late Tuesday that the MUD reached the coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority in the unicameral National Assembly with 112 seats. National Assembly members are elected to five-year terms.

Torrealba said parliament members will be given tools and proposals for a nationwide celebration scheduled for Saturday.

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"These activities will have two purposes, first to celebrate... but more than that, to work on structuring an organic relationship between each member and their community of voters," Torrealba said. "We must establish a relationship of work and effort."

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President Nicolás Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, was resoundingly defeated in Sunday's parliamentary elections, the first major loss for the socialist movement in Venezuela established by late former President Hugo Chávez.

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The majority of Venezuelans supported a change in government as voter turnout was nearly 75 percent, the highest for parliamentary elections in decades.

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The vast majority of Venezuela's voting process is electronic and is considered trustworthy by election monitors, including The Carter Center. Although the PSUV has often been accused of various degrees of electoral fraud in previous elections, there were no reports of significant voter intimidation or fraud in Sunday's election.

Both the PSUV and the MUD hailed Venezuela's successful electoral process and said any irregularities in polls were not representative of the election as a whole.

Torrealba criticized the CNE for releasing the full electoral results confirming the supermajority nearly two days after polls officially closed, which he said was an attempt to "lessen the impact of the news of the massive defeat suffered by the ruling party."

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Although Maduro said he was happy with the way the election was carried out, he was not happy with the results.

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"The bad ones imposed themselves. The bad ones won with lies, with deception, with misleading offers, with scams," Maduro said during his In Contact with Maduro television and radio program. "In Venezuela, a democratic opposition did not win. A counter-revolution won."

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The parliamentary election was regarded as a referendum on Maduro, who previously served as Chávez's vice president and became president after Chávez's death in 2013. Maduro narrowly survived a constitutionally-required presidential election a month after Chávez died.

Maduro's approval ratings are often below 30 percent and critics blame the PSUV for Venezuela's economic failures. The PSUV blames "economic warfare" waged by foreign actors, particularly the United States, and the opposition for the country's economic woes. Sharp drops in oil prices have added to Venezuela's troubles.

Inflation is seen as Venezuela's most significant issue, rated by 92 percent of Venezuelans as a problem. The South American country has one of the fastest annual inflation rates in the world, estimated between at least 80 percent to far more than 120 percent. Food shortages have also contributed to growing discontent.

About 85 percent of people in Venezuela are dissatisfied with the status of the country, up from 57 percent soon after Chávez died, a recent study by the Pew Research Center indicated. Eight percent of Venezuelans aged 18 to 29 are happy with the country's condition, compared to 21 percent of Venezuelans aged 50 and older.

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"A dark period of hegemony, of a totalitarian project has closed, " Torrealba added. "A new process of physical, economic, moral and spiritual reconstruction approaches."

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