Pro-government candidates and opponents of President Nicolas Maduro split Venezuela’s disputed mayoral elections Sunday, prolonging a political stalemate in the face of mounting economic problems. Members of Maduro’s socialist party were declared victors by the National Electoral Council in 196 of 335 municipalities up for grabs, while the opposition took 53 and independent candidate won eight races. The remaining 78 contests were too close to call. The opposition, which won 46 municipalities in the 2008 elections, held control of the country’s two biggest cities, Caracas and Maracaibo, and took at least four state capitals currently in the hands of government supporters, including Barinas, the hometown of the late President Hugo Chavez. But opposition forces failed to capitalize on discontent with galloping inflation and worsening shortages to win the much-watched national total vote and achieve its goal of punishing Maduro in his first electoral test since he defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles for the presidency by a razor-thin margin in April.
“The Bolivarian Revolution continues now with more strength,” Maduro told hundreds of supporters at a rally in downtown Caracas to celebrate what he called a “grand victory.”
Voting took place in relative calm, with only minor disruptions and isolated acts of violence. At 58 percent, turnout was heavy for local elections though it trailed the 80 percent that cast ballots in April’s presidential election, a reflection of fatigue that has set in across Venezuela’s political spectrum over the past few months.
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