World News

Venezuela's Ruling Socialists Sweep Mayoral Races Amid Opposition Boycott

Venezuela's Ruling Socialists Sweep Mayoral Races Amid Opposition Boycott

Pro-government candidates won more than 300 of the 335 local elections held in Venezuela on Sunday, but the results were affected by the absence of opposition candidates in numerous cities where there was a vote.

A record attendance at polls of 9,139,564 (about 47.32 percent of summoned voters) made clear the Venezuelans' willingness to decide the fate of the country, despite the refusal of opposition sectors to participate in this elections.

"Any party that has not participated in the municipal elections held on Sunday and has called for a boycott will not be able to attend the next elections", Maduro warned.

Venezuelans will choose hundreds of mayors on Sunday in elections pitting candidates backed by President Nicolas Maduro against a fractured opposition still bruised by a poor showing in recent gubernatorial voting.

Maduro said his party won more than 300 of Venezuela's 355 mayoral races in Sunday's voting.

Voting takes place against a backdrop of soaring inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and charges that Maduro's government has undermined Venezuela's democracy by imprisoning dissidents and usurping the powers of the opposition-controlled Congress.

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After the opposition unexpectedly lost most of the regional races in October, it cried foul.

"They will disappear from the political map", he said of the opposition parties that boycotted Sunday's vote. An alliance of parties have labeled Maduro a dictator and refused to participate in the mayoral races.

Economic and political crises have caused the president's approval rating to plunge, although the opposition has been largely unable to capitalize on Maduro's unpopularity. The country saw months of protests that left more than 120 dead earlier this year, and it is now facing USA economic sanctions as it seeks to refinance a huge global debt.

"The opposition is condemned to trying to find a solution to its internal problems", said Edgard Gutierrez, coordinator of local pollster Venebarometro.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Maria Corina Machado said the elections are "a null event" called by the invalid ANC, organised by electoral authorities that are "fraudulent", adding that Venezuela is a territory "under military occupation". "Things can only change here after the presidential elections".


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