Venezuela’s opposition has called for street protests after President Nicolas Maduro’s government won a majority of governorships in a surprise result from Sunday’s regional elections. The Democratic Unity’s election campaign chief, Gerardo Blyde, demanded a complete audit of the 23 governor races and called on its candidates to lead “street activities” on Monday in protest over the results the party said it would not recognise. The ruling Socialist party took 17 governorships, while the Democratic Unity coalition took five, with results irreversible in all but one of the 23 states, said Tibisay Lucena, the electoral board president. “Chavismo is alive, in the street, and triumphant,” a beaming Maduro said in a speech to the nation, referring to the ruling movement’s name for former president Hugo Chavez.
Minutes earlier, opposition leaders had said the pro-government election board was about to announce dubious results. “We have serious suspicions and doubts,” said Blyde, after opposition leaders had said they were sure of a “gigantic” victory based on their observers at vote centers.
The opposition took five governorships, including the restive Andean states of Merida and Tachira, plus the oil-producing western region of Zulia.
The government won back populous Miranda state, which includes part of Caracas, for an up-and-coming star of the Socialist party, Hector Rodriguez.