Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won a second six-year term on Sunday amid allegations of vote buying and electoral fraud, The New York Times reported. The crisis-stricken nation is in the midst of a historic economic collapse marked by soaring prices, high levels of crime, and a failing health system. In February, the Opposition announced its decision to boycott the elections, calling them “fraudulent, illegitimate”.
Election officials said Maduro, the political heir of Hugo Chavez, received 5.8 million votes, or 67.7% of the votes cast. His main rival, a former state governor named Henri Falcon, received 1.8 million votes. Javier Bertucci, an evangelical minister, received 9,25,000 votes.
Venezuela’s election panel said just 46.1% of the electorate had turned up to vote, much below the 80% turnout from the last presidential election in 2013, The Guardian reported.
“This was a historic day!” Maduro said in his victory speech. “The day of a heroic victory! The day of a beautiful victory – of a truly popular victory. The whole of Venezuela has triumphed! Democracy has triumphed! Peace has triumphed! Constitutionality has triumphed! [These were] elections that were constitutional, legitimate and legal.”
However, Falcon alleged that the ruling party had bought votes and committed other electoral irregularities. “We do not recognize this electoral process as valid,” he told reporters. “As far as we are concerned there has been no election. There must be new elections in Venezuela.”
Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro in the 2013 elections and was subsequently barred from running again also hinted at electoral fraud. “Our beloved Venezuela must have truly free and democratic elections where the will of our people is reflected in the result,” he tweeted.
The United States government, which had imposed fresh sanctions on Venezuela ahead of the elections, said it would not recognise the polls as legitimate.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera also refused to recognise the elections. “Venezuela’s elections do not meet the minimum standards for a true democracy,” he tweeted. “They are not clean or legitimate elections and they do not represent the free and sovereign will of the Venezuelan people.”