In Venezuela’s erroneous vote, Maduro shows a way to retain power

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However, the mission highlighted several democratic improvements in Sunday’s election, and went so far as to call the country’s electronic voice processing system “reliable”.

The United States, which does not recognize Maduro’s government, called the election deeply flawed, but praised the opposition candidates who decided to run to retain the few democratic offices they still held.

At the polls in Caracas on Sunday, many voters expressed little confidence in the fairness of the election, but said they had decided to show up anyway, in some cases because they saw their vote as their last tool in a struggle for change.

“I know the whole process is controlled,” said Blas Roa, 55, a Caracas carpenter who voted for the first time since 2015. “But if I do not vote, I will do nothing.”

Most Venezuelans did not care.

Only 42 percent of voters voted, the lowest turnout in any election in which the opposition has participated in the past two decades. After 20 years of socialist rule, few in the country still offer hope for radical change, focusing instead on taking advantage of the new economic freedoms to improve their precarious livelihoods.

The government-induced apathy became Maduro’s biggest weapon in the election, said opposition leader Freddy Superlano, who ran for governor of the ranch state of Barinas, once a large socialist party bastion and home to the party’s founder, Hugo Ch├ívez. .

That contest remained too close to be announced on Tuesday afternoon.

The result would have been different, said Mr. Superlano, if opposition factions had put their fears aside and started a concerted campaign.

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