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Venezuela's ruling socialists romp to victory in mayoral elections

Venezuela's ruling socialists romp to victory in mayoral elections
From CBC - December 10, 2017

Venezuela's ruling socialists swept nearly all the races for mayors across the country, and President Nicolas Maduro is now threatening to ban key opposition parties from future elections in the oil-rich country wracked by economic crisis.

Hundreds of supporters shouted "Go home, Donald Trump" to interrupt Maduro at a rally late Sunday in the colonial centre of Caracas, where he announced that pro-government candidates grabbed more than 300 of the 335 mayoral offices.

Sunday's voting marked the last nationwide elections before next year's presidential race when Maduro is expected to seek another term despite his steep unpopularity.

"The imperialists have tried to set fire to Venezuela to take our riches," Maduro told the crowd. "We have defeated the American imperialists with our votes, our ideas, truths, reason and popular will."

Triple-digit inflation

The elections played out as Venezuelans struggle with triple-digit inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and charges that Maduro's government has undermined democracy by imprisoning dissidents and usurping the powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Three of the four biggest opposition parties refused to take part in Sunday's contests, protesting what they called an electoral system rigged by a "dictator." The last time the opposition refused to compete in congressional elections in 2005 it strengthened the government's hand for years.

After dropping his vote into the cardboard ballot box earlier in the day, Maduro responded to the boycott.

"A party that has not participated today cannot participate anymore," Maduro said. "They will disappear from the political map."

Turbulent year

'Absolutely predictable'

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