According to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), turnout in the disputed constituency election was 41.5%, a figure disputed by the opposition.
The opposition coalition said 88% of voters abstained and refused to recognize the election. He also called for more protests on July 31st.
The July 30 election was marred by violence, with widespread protests and at least 10 people killed.
President Nicolas Maduro hailed the poll as a “voice for the revolution”.
Venezuelans have been asked to elect more than 500 representatives to form a constituent assembly.
The Constituent Assembly was convened by Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the existing constitution, which was drafted and adopted in 1999 when his mentor, President Hugo Chavez, took office.
On July 31, CNE chief Tibisai Lucena announced that there had been “extraordinary turnout” of more than eight million voters.
She also announced that President Maduro’s wife, Celia Flores, was among those elected, as well as close allies of President Diosdado Cabello, Iris Varela and Delsey Rodriguez.
The announcement was met with outrage and ridicule by the opposition, which boycotted the vote.
Opposition politician Henry Ramos Alup said that according to their data, less than 2.5 million Venezuelans turned out to vote.
As the opposition boycotted the election from the beginning and did not send any candidates, it was always less about who would be elected and more about how many Venezuelans would take part in the vote.
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The opposition held an unofficial referendum two weeks before the election, asking Venezuelans if they wanted a constituent assembly at all. According to opposition figures, more than seven million Venezuelans rejected the constituent assembly in the vote.
The opposition called on Venezuelans to stay at home, and even some Chavists (supporters of the socialist movement founded by President Hugo Chavez and of which Nicolas Maduro is a part) said they objected to the constituent assembly and would not vote.
There were widespread reports of public sector employees being told by their superiors to go to the polls or be fired.
Therefore, how many people turned out to be was seen as a key indicator of government support.
The opposition claims that the data cannot be verified because a number of procedures that were introduced in previous elections have not been followed.
For example, voters’ little fingers were not marked with indelible ink to prevent them from trying to vote several times.
There were no independent observers.
However, Tibisai Lucena said the vote was “normal” and that the outbreaks of a small number of polling stations were controlled.
Nicolas Maduro convened the constituent assembly on May 1st amid fierce anti-government protests.
The president argued that the constituent assembly would promote “reconciliation and peace,” but did not elaborate on how exactly the rewriting of the constitution would achieve such broad goals.
Government critics fear that President Maduro wants to use the constituent assembly to maximize his power and hold on to it longer.
As the constituent assembly drafts a new constitution, it has the potential to radically change Venezuela’s government.
The last time a constituent assembly met was in 1999, the legislature was suspended while the constitution was being discussed.
The opposition called for new protests on July 31st.
On July 30, at least 10 people were killed in protests across the country, prompting opposition leader Enrique Capriles to speak of a “massacre”.
Despite the government’s ban on protests and the threat of up to 10 years in prison for anyone disrupting the election process, the streets were barricaded and a number of polling stations were attacked before the vote.
Tensions are likely to rise on July 31 and before the members of the constituent assembly are sworn in on August 2.