[JURIST] Members of Venezuela’s Socialist Party [official website, in Spanish] who lost legislative seats in elections earlier this month filed challenges [BBC report] on Tuesday disputing the election of eight opposition candidates. The opposition, Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), won 99 legislative seats [CNN report] on December 6, giving the party legislative power for the first time in 16 years. The win for the opposition party will give them a super majority in the legislature, allowing them to challenge the President Nicolas Maduro [official profile, in Spanish]. If one appeal is upheld, however, the opposition party will lose their status as a super majority and powers that come along with it. Critics of the move, such as Jesus Torrealba, secretary-general of the opposition party, describe it as a “legal tricks to steal something the voters didn’t want to give….” Others, such as President Maduro, believe that the opposition played dirty in order to purchase their wins.
Opposition leaders in Venezuela have faced significant political push back over the course of the last couple of years. In June 2014 the 16th Control Judge of Caracas, Adriana Lopez, ordered [JURIST report] Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to remain in jail until trial on charges of instigating violence, damaging property and arson committed during a political rally in February of that year. Leopoldo was convicted, and in October of 2014 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged [JURIST report] Venezuela to release Leopoldo Lopez. This October the former Caracas prosecutor Franklin Nieves released a video [JURIST report] confessing to being pressured into presenting false evidence to condemn Lopez. Again in November, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for [JURIST report] the protection of political oppositions associated with the assassinated Venezuelan opposition leader, Luis Diaz. Diaz was shot while on stage with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori.