Nicolás Maduro wins second term as Venezuelan President

The President ignored allegations of vote buying and election fraud after winning his second election amid a low voting turnout

Nicolás Maduro celebrates his victory on Sunday
Nicolás Maduro celebrates his victory on Sunday

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has won a new six-term election on Sunday, shrugging off international condemnation and allegations of vote buying and election fraud.

The 55-year-old former bus driver addressed crowds of supporters outside the presidential palace in Caracas on Sunday night, hailing the “impeccable electoral process” that had returned him to power with 67.7% of the vote.

“This was a historic day! The day of a heroic victory! The day of a beautiful victory - of a truly popular victory,” Maduro shouted.

“The whole of Venezuela has triumphed! Democracy has triumphed! Peace has triumphed! Constitutionality has triumphed [These were] elections that were constitutional, legitimate and legal,” he insisted, before claiming: “We have a president of the people! A working president!”

Maduro’s election, who replaced Hugo Chavez after his death in 2013, may trigger a new round of western sanctions against the socialist government.

Venezuela’s election board put turnout at just 46.1%, way down from the 80% registered at the last presidential vote in 2013, due to a boycott by Venezuela’s mainstream opposition.

Tibisay Lucena, the head of Venezuela’s electoral commission, told reporters Maduro had received more than 5.8m votes compared to the 1.8m of his nearest rival, Henri Falcón.

Henri Falcón claimed widespread vote buying and electoral irregularities meant the election was “illegitimate”. “We do not regonize 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.”

“All Venezuelans know what happened today,” tweeted Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in the 2013 election and was subsequently barred from running again. “Our beloved Venezuela must have truly free and democratic elections where the will of our People is reflected in the result.”

The United States’ mission to the United Nations indicated it would reject the result. “Today’s so-called election in Venezuela is an insult to democracy ... It’s time for Maduro to go,” it tweeted.

Maduro dismissed such criticisms in his late-night victory address and vowed to work swiftly to stablize his country’s economy, amidst a calamitous economic meltdown that saw the economy shrink by 13% last year and has seen more than a million people flee abroad since 2015.

“You have put your trust in me and I will pay back this infinite, loving trust,” he said.

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