VENEZUELA’S ruling Socialists won more than two-thirds of Sunday’s regional elections — prompting opposition claims of fraud.
With one result too close to call, the United Socialist Party won 17 of 23 state governorships to the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s five. Bolivar state had yet to declare when the Star went to press.
Mud candidates won in the alliance’s Colombian border strongholds Zulia, Merida and Tachira, along with central Anzoategui and the island state of Nueva Esparta.
President Nicolas Maduro asked the recently elected constitutional assembly to order the National Electoral Council (CNE) to audit 100 per cent of the ballot papers — calling the opposition’s bluff.
“As we have absolute faith in the electoral transparency, I ask, as head of state, that the national constituent assembly order an audit of the entire electoral process from A to Z.”
Earlier Mr Maduro praised the conduct of the election, saying: “There has not been a single incident, electoral process in peace, perfect.”
Mud campaign chief Gerardo Blyde alleged vote rigging before CNE president Tibisay Lucena even announced the results, threatening a return to “street actions.”
Four months of opposition regime-change riots from April to July left 124 people dead.
“At this moment we don’t recognise any of the results,” Mr Blyde said, vowing: “We’re going to fight and we invite the Venezuelan people to change the electoral system that isn’t trustworthy.
“We have already alerted the international community and we are alerting the country,” he added.
Turnout was significantly higher than the eight million for the July 31 constituent assembly election that Mud boycotted.
The CNE said almost 11 million people, or 61 per cent, voted — a vindication for the government after the summer violence.
Mr Maduro called it a “triumphant victory for Chavismo” — the ideology of late president Hugo Chavez.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said: “Democracy has won over intervention and conspiracy. The people defend their sovereignty and dignity.”
International election observers said the vote was free and fair.
Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America Ecuadorian representative Alfredo Arevalo called it “one of the best electoral processes, audited many times by all parties and political actors.”
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