Venezuela’s opposition refused on Monday to recognize a surprise win for the ruling socialists in a weekend regional election, potentially rekindling protests and fresh foreign sanctions on the oil-rich country’s moribund economy. Venezuela’s pro-government electoral board said President Nicolas Maduro’s candidates took 17 governorships, versus six for the opposition, in Sunday’s poll with turnout of more than 61 percent. The socialists’ strong showing was unexpected after devastating food shortages and salary-destroying inflation fueled anger at Maduro. Polls had suggested the opposition would easily win a majority, with one survey giving them 44.7 percent of voter intentions against 21.1 percent for the government. Dismayed opposition leaders decried irregularities, called for street action on Monday and demanded a full audit, but did not immediately offer any evidence of fraud.
“Neither Venezuelans nor the world will swallow this fiction,” said grave-faced opposition election campaign chief Gerardo Blyde.
Dispirited about their chances of removing Maduro through protests or the ballot box, many Venezuelan opposition supporters now hope foreign sanctions will hurt him.
The Trump administration has already imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials including Maduro and curbed the country’s ability to issue new debt, which has spooked banks and complicated operations at state oil company PDVSA.
Full Article: Venezuela vote dispute risks rekindling unrest, sanctions.