If the absence of protests or conflict on an election day is an indicator of success, then the success of the Union of South American Nations’ (UNASUR’s) election “accompaniment” of Venezuela’s December 6th legislative elections was smashing. But recent events demonstrate the folly of limiting election observation to a few days before the event and defining observation, as UNASUR does in its charter, as sanctioning the electoral process by “accompanying” the state election authority—making a mockery of international election observation standards.
Despite a litany of complaints about the pre-electoral conditions from credible outsiders, including Secretary General Luis Almagro of the Organization of American States (OAS), the unified opposition managed to win a two-thirds supermajority of 112 seats in the 167-seat unicameral National Assembly, handing the Chavista government its first ever major electoral defeat. Now, though, President Nicolas Maduro’s government has begun attempts to shrink the majority of the incoming opposition bloc. And the price of UNASUR’s toothless, election-day “accompaniment” of the elections is now becoming evident.
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