President Nicolas Maduro says 8 million Venezuelans cast ballots on Sunday in an election that will give his leftist government more power, but experts say the voting was rife with irregularities and opposition leaders are crying foul. The official vote tally is similar to those seen in victories won by late President Hugo Chavez when he was at the peak of his popularity, and tens of thousands of ecstatic red-shirted Venezuelans danced and cheered at the presidential palace when he was re-elected. During the weekend vote to elect members of a constituent assembly, many streets were deserted and the opposition boycotted the vote championed by Maduro, who is widely blamed for an unprecedented economic meltdown marked by food shortages, runaway inflation and spiraling poverty levels.
The opposition coalition estimates only 2.5 million ballots were actually cast on Sunday, while investment bank Torino Capital said its exit polls put the number around 3.6 million.
“It’s a bold-faced lie. I spent all day in Petare observing. This (8 million) number is impossible, it’s total fraud,” said opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado, who told Reuters he monitored the turnout in a sprawling Caracas slum.
Full Article: Opposition leaders, election experts decry Venezuela vote.