Venezuelans have voted in legislative elections set to tighten President Nicolas Maduro’s grip on power and further weaken his US-backed opposition rival Juan Guaido, who is leading a boycott of the polls he calls a fraud.
The boycott by the main opposition parties meant there was no doubt of victory for Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party, giving it control of an expanded 227-seat National Assembly – the only institution not in its hands.
Maduro told reporters after voting in Caracas’ main military barracks that it was time to end the opposition’s domination of the Assembly responsible, he said, for “the plague of sanctions, cruelty, pain and suffering”.
Turnout throughout the day was low, however, with many polling stations empty or with few people in line.
Maduro, who already has the loyalty of the courts, the military, prosecutors and other institutions, seeks to load the National Assembly with members of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela.