Venezuela Votes In General Election; Both Sides Claiming Victory As Polls Close

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at a rally on Thursday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at a rally on Thursday.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Shortly after polls closed Sunday night in Venezuela, the country’s ruling party claimed victory in the legislative elections.

Leaders from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) claimed victory only minutes after polls closed at the 12,562 voting centers on Sunday at 6 p.m. local time. However, as of 10 p.m., the national electoral council (CNE) had yet to announce the winners after a busy day at the polls that saw about 70 percent of registered voters turnout.

Some unconfirmed exit polls taken by Venezuela’s COPEI opposition party show that the PSUV didn’t fair as well as they claimed. If the opposition coalition make any major gains, this could deprive President Hugo Chávez of the two-thirds majority he has had in the parliament for the last six years.

Lines began to form at voting stations long before sunrise and, with the exception of a few candidates being harassed and some reports of scattered violence, the vote went off amid considerable calm.

During the last general elections five years ago, opposition groups held a boycott and now hold only a few seats in Venezuela’s 165-member National Assembly. This year, opposition groups campaigned actively in the hope of gaining one-third of the seats, which is enough to block major legislation advancing Chavéz’s socialist program.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

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