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Despite fraud claims & low turnout Venezuela's Socialists claim victory

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By Robert Hackwill
Fraud claims have done little to dent Maduro's victory
Fraud claims have done little to dent Maduro's victory

For supporters of Venezuela's ruling Socialists the re-election of Nicolas Maduro is a victory against all odds and a vindication of his policies.

For opponents it is another six years of crime, corruption and economic collapse, and a worry that democracy has now been so fatally eroded elections matter little.

Maduro insisted Venezuelans had made a free choice.

"America calls our elections illegitimate. They don't have the least capacity to interpret and understand the message that the Venezuelan people are sending, they don't have the slightest capacity for dialogue, their only capacity is to wipe out, wipe out, and threaten. Venezuela has its own way. Today we are strengthening the way in Venezuela," he said.

Beaten challenger Henri Falcon was a Socialist himself until 2010. He is now disillusioned, but stood despite the opposition boycott. The result is meaningless, he contends.

"We don't recognize this electoral process as valid, as having taken place. For us, there were no elections. New elections in Venezuela need to take place."

Poor people turned out in numbers in the government strongholds, while affluent suburbs saw very little activity on election day.

Accusations of fraud are expected to go unheeded claim the oppsoition, as most electoral officials are now Maduro party loyalists or appointees.