President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party (PSVU) has won the majority of state governorships in a surprise election result from Sunday’s (15 October) regional elections.
The PSVU now holds 17 out of 23 governor positions, although opposition leaders have alleged fraud and called for street protests.
The Venezuelan bishops’ conference encouraged people to vote despite widespread anger over the authoritarian conduct of the Maduro Government. The bishops wrote, “These elections are a light along the path for those who not only believe in, but defend democracy, and are the authentic path towards the holistic development that our people so deeply need.”
The elections had been postponed from December 2016, and opposition leaders had demanded throughout this year that they be re-scheduled.
The President of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, announced the results live on television shortly after 10 pm on 15 October, reporting a higher than expected 61 per cent turnout. Opinion polls had suggested the opposition coalition were on course for a decisive win.
The months-long anti-government protests, which led to 125 deaths, effectively came to an end after the 31 July vote for the Constituent Assembly. The Assembly, filled with Maduro supporters, has taken a central role in national politics, and Mr Maduro has said that incoming governors will have to take an oath of loyalty to the Constituent Assembly.
PICTURE: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a meeting at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, on 15 October, 2017