Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro won a second six-year term on Sunday in an election marked by accusations of fraudulent voting, in a country that has plummeted into the ranks of the most troubled on earth.
Maduro now stands to lead Venezuela until at least 2024.
Venezuela’s election board, which has ties to Maduro, said the president won 5.8 million votes, while his closest rival Henri Falcón took 1.8 million, and a third candidate, evangelical minister Javier Bertucci, took 925,000. It pegged turnout at only 46.1 percent, down from 80 percent in 2013. Most opposition voices had urged voters to boycott the vote in a protest to highlight Maduro’s lack of legitimacy, but Falcón went ahead with his candidacy, angering some government opponents.
Maduro had banned the biggest opposition parties from participating in the election, and arrested activists and potential political rivals in recent months. Rivals said he compelled citizens to vote for him by promising food and money to citizens.
“The process undoubtedly lacks legitimacy and as such we do not recognize it,” Falcón said.
Maduro replaced Hugo Chavez after Chavez died in 2013, but has never matched his charismatic predecessor’s popularity, and has sunk in esteem even among supporters as he has presided over the once affluent country’s collapse.
A collapse in oil prices combined with gross economic mismanagement has led to widespread food shortages, a collapsing health-care system, inflation approaching 13,000 percent, and a mass exodus of Venezuelans to neighboring Colombia and Brazil.
Venezuela’s economy has already largely been cut off from international financing, but the U.S. had repeatedly threatened further sanctions targeting Venezuela’s crude oil program before the election, On Monday, it appeared almost certain that the Trump administration would follow through. Neighboring countries are also likely to take additional economic measures against Venezuela, likely driving the country’s economy even deeper into the ditch.