Venezuela’s Maduro calls EU election observers ‘spies’ | Nicolas Maduro News
Observers said polls saw better conditions than previous years, but raised concerns about some practices.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has dismissed members of the European Union Election Observation Mission, which was sent to monitor regional elections last week, as “spies”.
Maduro’s conviction on Sunday came after observers said the vote, in which opposition candidates took part for the first time in four years, generally took better than previous years.
However, they have raised concerns about arbitrary bans on candidates on administrative grounds, delays in opening polling stations and “expanded use of state campaign resources.”
Maduro, whose ruling Socialist Party has largely passed the Conservative and mayoral elections, said EU monitors had sought to “smear the electoral process but were unable to do so”.
“A delegation of spies – who were not observers – roamed freely throughout the country, spied on the country’s social, economic and political life,” Maduro said during a broadcast on state television, adding that the elections were “fantastic and beautiful.”
The monitoring mission did not immediately respond to these allegations.
European Union monitors deployed to the country for the first time in 15 years as part of several concessions from the Maduro government to encourage the participation of opposition candidates, who have boycotted all elections in the country since 2018 amid allegations of fraud and intimidation.
The concessions came amid a broader bid by Maduro, who was first elected president in 2013, to curry favor with Western powers in hopes of easing sanctions that have already crippled the country’s economy.
The United States is among dozens of countries that have not recognized Maduro’s presidency since the controversial 2018 national elections, which opposition leader Juan Guaido claimed won.
The 1,000-member European Union team will present a full report on the elections within two months.
Opposition candidates saw little success in the recent elections, taking just three of the 23 states and 117 mayor positions against the ruling party’s 210 mayoral victories.
Not many races for mayor have been called, nor has a single governor’s office been called – in the Maduro-leaning state of Barinas.
Despite the victories, the Socialists’ vote dwindled to less than four million, according to the country’s electoral authority figures, down from the 5.9 million they won during regional elections in 2017.
On Sunday, Maduro also said he would hold meetings in the “next hours” with opposition rulers, but did not provide details.