Despite an opposition boycott, a legislative election in Venezuela appears to have gone without serious problems. Candidates allied to leftist President Hugo Chavez were expected to triumph even before the walk-out by main opposition parties. They have accused the electoral authorities of favouring the populist leader and manipulating electronic voting machines. Previously, they had agreed to participate after negotiations with the Organisation of American States, which is monitoring the election.
Since Chavez won a referendum last year, his opponents have struggled to overcome divisions. One foreign observer, representing the Spanish parliament, said the voting had been “fundamentally normal.” He was speaking before the polling stations closed. Chavez, who is an ally of Cuba, has accused Washington of trying to destabilise his country. His supporters in parliament have said they will push for constitutional reforms to allow him to stand for a third term in a year’s time.