Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday called on followers to “peacefully” accept a dramatic defeat in this weekend’s critical legislative race and vowed to learn from the rare electoral setback.
The opposition coalition won 99 seats in the National Assembly versus the ruling party’s 46, the National Electoral Council announced early Monday. Some 19 deputy slots and three seats reserved for indigenous members were too close to call.
The result is seen as a major blow to the country’s socialist administration, which has controlled all branches of government for more than 15 years.
In a speech before cabinet ministers, Maduro said he was more committed than ever to the “Bolivarian Revolution” first launched by late President Hugo Chávez when he first took office in 1999.
“This isn’t time to cry, it’s time to fight,” Maduro said, “and reinvent ourselves — to recognize our errors and find solutions…It’s time for a rebirth from our difficulties.”
Fireworks went off in eastern Caracas as the results were announced. The head of the coalition, Jesús Torrealba, reassured government sympathizers that the opposition wasn’t going to dismantle social programs or seek revenge.
Venezuela “can rest assured that we’ll know how to manage this victory,” he said. “It’s a victory that belongs to everyone.”