Tibisay Lucena, the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), announced that the ruling party (PSUV) swept the regional elections, winning 17 of the 23 the governorships, with a turnout of more than 61 percent.
The results were unexpected after food shortages and inflation. Opinion polls had suggested the opposition would easily win a majority, with one survey predicting victory in 18 of the governorates.
Opposition leaders decried irregularities, calling for “street activities” on Monday and demanding a full audit of the 23 governor races. The leaders did not immediately offer evidence of fraud.
“We do not recognise any of the results at this time. We are facing a very serious moment for the country,” Gerardo Blyde, the opposition election campaign chief said on Sunday.
When they lose, they cry fraud. When they win, they shout 'Down with Maduro'
It is unclear whether opposition supporters will take to the streets after months of protests failed to pressure the government into holding an early election or accepting humanitarian aid.
“When they lose, they cry fraud. When they win, they shout ‘Down with Maduro’. Chavismo is alive, in the streets and triumphant,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said, adding that he was ordering a full audit of the elections in what he said was evidence of transparency.
“Maybe we’ll recover those … governorships that we lost,” he added.
Online, #Fraude (“fraud”), #PSUV (the ruling socialist party), #Tibisay, and #VenezuelaVictoriaPopular (“Venezuela’s popular victory”) trended on social media in Venezuela, with many pointing to fraud, while others were celebrating victory.
Some supporters of the opposition, including Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, questioned the election results.
— Laura Chinchilla M. (@Laura_Ch) October 16, 2017
(Translation: “Election results today are the chronicle of an announced fraud. They are outrageous, but they are not strange. Dictatorships never lose.”
(Translation: “They [opposition] were in the hands of a fraudulent CNE and believed they would play clean? They played with s*** and expected to leave without it?” #Fraud)
Others, however, said they were disappointed that the opposition participated in the election in the first place.
Si tuvieran una pizca de integridad renunciaban ya Ramos Allup, Julio Borges, Leopoldo López, Henry Falcón y Manuel Rosales.
— A. Sanchez Garcia (@Sangarccs) October 16, 2017
No pudo el golpismo,la violencia,las mentiras de la prensa canalla,Trump y aliados contra la voluntad soberana del bravo pueblo de Venezuela https://t.co/5hVKoNuJMP
— Alicia Castro (@AliciaCastroAR) October 16, 2017
Es una falta de respeto, la oposición ni siquiera reconoce los resultados donde ganaron, es decir, se burlan del pueblo venezolano. Son unos impresentables. Jamás tendrán pueblo pic.twitter.com/0JdK6mvgs4
— Madelein Garcia (@madeleintlSUR) October 16, 2017
(Translation: “It is a lack of respect to not respect the results. The opposition does not even recognise the results where they won. They are mocking the Venezuelan people. They are unpresentable. They will never have people’s support.”)
La Derecha no entiende cómo es q ganó el Chavismo. La verdad es q no entienden qué es el Chavismo. Nunca lo entenderán. Y prefieren negarlo
— William Castillo B (@planwac) October 16, 2017
(Translation: “The right does not get why the Chavismo won. The truth is that they do not understand Chavismo at all. You’ll never understand it. And you prefer to just deny it.”)
The ruling party retains more support in poorer, rural settings where Venezuela’s opposition has struggled to capitalise on discontent over the economy.
Socialist candidates, using the image of popular Hugo Chavez, urged Venezuelans to vote against the opposition, whom they accuse of plotting a “coup” under the veneer of peaceful protest – allegations the opposition has denied.