President Nicolas Maduro’s government won a landslide victory in closely watched regional elections in Venezuela on Sunday, according to official results that the opposition said were “suspicious.”
Maduro’s socialist party won governorships of 17 of the 23 states with the opposition Democratic Union Roundtable (MUD) coalition taking only five, according to the results announced by the National Elections Council, AFP reported.
The official turnout was 61.14%.
Maduro said his government had scored an “emphatic victory” over its rivals.
“The opposition has five,” Maduro underscored in a speech to supporters, adding that his party could win one further state where the results were still in dispute.
Public opinion surveys had predicted that the opposition would win a majority of state governorships despite alleged government dirty tricks to suppress a high turnout.
International powers accuse Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in the wake of an economic collapse caused by a fall in the price of oil, its main source of revenue.
Sunday’s polls were the first contested by the opposition since legislative elections in 2015 that gave it a majority in the National Assembly.
For Maduro, the polls were an opportunity to counter allegations of dictatorship leveled at him at home and abroad after forming the Constituent Assembly.