Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks in the capital, Caracas, on October 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
’s election officials say the Socialist Party of President Nicolas Maduro has won a landslide victory in regional elections, in results that were rejected by the opposition as fraudulent.
Maduro’s party won 17 out of the 23 governorships up for grab in the Sunday elections, among them populous Miranda State, which includes parts of the capital, Caracas, announced the head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, late Sunday.
Lucena said 61 percent of the nation’s 18 million eligible voters participated in the elections, adding that the results are irreversible in all the states but one, where the race is too close to announce a winner for now.
The ruling party had previously controlled 20 of the 23 states.
The right-wing Democratic Unity Coalition also secured five state governorships—two more than they took in the 2012 elections. Among the states that went to the opposition are Merida and Tachira as well as the oil-producing region of Zulia.
President Maduro hailed the results as an “emphatic victory” over his rivals.
“We have 17 governorships, 54 percent of the votes, 61 percent participation, 75 percent of the governorates, and the country has strengthened,” said the president.
He also called on government supporters to celebrate “in peace, with respect to the adversary.”
Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shout slogans against the opposition in Caracas on October 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Venezuelan leader added that he had sent a message to opposition leader Julio Borges, asking him to “abide by the transparent results.”
Opposition cries foul
The coalition, however, refused to recognize the results and urged a complete audit.
“These results are unbelievable and inexplicable,” said opposition spokesman Ramon Aveledo.
“We don’t recognize today’s results given by the National Electoral Council today,” said the Democratic Unity’’ election campaign chief, Gerardo Blyde.
“It is a system for cheating. It is not transparent and represents a state of abuse by those who hold power. It is an unequal election process, with unbalanced results that do not reflect reality. No Venezuelan, nor the world is going to swallow the story from the government who can’t explain these results,” he added.
He called on the party’s candidates to lead “street activities” and hold protests over the results on Monday.
Gerardo Blyde (C), representative of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), talks to the media before the announcement of the results of the election at their headquarters in Caracas, on October 15, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
The opposition had claimed in the lead-up to the vote, that confusing ballots as well as a last-minute decision by election officials to relocate over 200 voting centers could affect the vote.
Venezuela’s election body, however, told reporters that voting centers opened in record time, and that they had very few problems with electricity and voting machines.
The opposition’s refusal to accept the results raised the prospect of more unrest in the country, which was the scene of months-long opposition protests earlier this year.
The unrest left at least 125 people from both camps dead and hundreds of others injuries. The violence also led to thousand of arrests and caused widespread property destruction across the country, which is grappling with an economic crisis.
Venezuela held a vote on July 30 to elect a new institution called the Constituent Assembly, which replaced the opposition-led National Assembly. The new body gave Maduro the power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.
Maduro has now called on all governors, including the five new opposition ones, to swear allegiance to the Constituent Assembly. The opposition, however, does not recognize the body.