Venezuela, a country on the brink of disaster due to plummeting oil prices and increasing poverty, held elections last night in which the ruling socialist party of President Nicolas Maduro won decisively. Despite pre-election polls that gave opposition parties an edge, Maduro’s party won 17 of the country’s 23 state governorships.
The results have sparked international and domestic backlash, as Venezuelan citizens and opposition leaders call the results fraudulent and the United States and European Union do the same. The opposition party, Democratic Union Roundtable, has refused to recognize the results.
The claims of fraud seem to be justified, as last minute changes to polling stations and limited availability of voting machines in majority-opposition neighborhoods have been reported throughout the country. However, the same polls that predicted victory for the opposition also found a slight increase in Maduro’s popularity. Regardless, Maduro is claiming the victory as a “landslide” for his party.
The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Venezuela, but they are likely to increase in the coming weeks. Maduro has not let this thwart him in the past, and is accustomed to conflict with the United States and the European Union. Their critiques stem from his gradual consolidation of power into what they call an “authoritarian dictatorship.”