Venezuela’s ruling socialists triumphed in nearly all mayoral elections across the country, as President Nicolas Maduro threatened to ban opposition parties from future elections in the oil-rich country wracked by economic crisis. Hundreds of supporters shouted “Go Home, Donald Trump” to interrupt Maduro at a rally late on Sunday in the colonial centre of Caracas, where he announced that pro-government candidates had won more than 300 of the 335 mayoral offices. Sunday’s voting marked the last nationwide elections before next year’s presidential race, when Maduro is expected to seek another term despite his unpopularity. “The imperialists have tried to set fire to Venezuela to take our riches,” Maduro told the crowd. “We’ve defeated the American imperialists with our votes, our ideas, truths, reason and popular will.”
The elections played out as Venezuelans struggle with triple-digit inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and charges that Maduro’s government has undermined democracy by imprisoning dissidents and usurping the powers of the opposition-controlled national assembly.
Three of the four biggest opposition parties refused to take part in Sunday’s contests, protesting against what they called an electoral system rigged by a “dictator”. The last time the opposition refused to compete in congressional elections in 2005 it strengthened the government’s hand for years.