Venezuela's Maduro faces overseas condemnation following election win

Venezuela Votes in a Presidential Election. Enthusiasm Is Absent

Reeling under a devastating economic crisis, only 46 percent of voters turned out to cast ballots in an election boycotted by the opposition and condemned by much of the worldwide community, but one that hands Maduro a second term until 2025.

"For us, there were no elections".

But he said that in the event of a new vote, Maduro should do the courageous thing and desist from running.

He told cheering crowds outside the presidential palace in Caracas that "the revolution is here to stay!".

Turnout was 46 per cent, the election board said, way down from the 80 per cent at the last presidential vote in 2013.

Maduro, of the ruling United Socialist Party, beat Henri Falcon of the Advanced Progressive Party, with 68 percent of the vote, which was pushed back from late April to give opposition candidates more time to campaign.

"We won again! We triumphed again!"

Maduro also said that if he won the election, he would seek an understanding with his opponents on a way forward for the crisis-wracked country.

Maduro, 55, hailed his win in Sunday's vote as a victory against "imperialism", but his main rival alleged irregularities and refused to recognise the result.

His closest challenger, Henri Falcon, came in second with 21.2 percent, while Javier Bertucci was third with 10 percent.

More than 1 million Venezuelans have abandoned their country for a better life overseas in recent years, while those staying behind wait in line for hours to buy subsidized food and withdraw cash that's nearly impossible to find.

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Pence says the United States "will not sit idly by as Venezuela crumbles and the misery of their fearless people continues".

"Sham elections change nothing".

The disputed victory is likely to heighten worldwide pressure on Maduro, as voter turnout was the lowest in a presidential race since the start of Venezuela's leftist revolution two decades ago.

Falcon, a 56-year-old former army officer who failed to gain the endorsement of the main opposition, accused the government of coercing voters.

The government has set up so-called red point zones near polling stations so Venezuelans can scan their state-issued "fatherland cards" used to receive benefits including food boxes and money transfers.

A woman waiting outside a polling station in a Caracas slum, La Vega, said she worked for a government agency and feared losing her job if she did not vote and report afterward at the Red Spot. Maduro, initially dismissed as the blundering heir of former President Hugo Chávez, has managed to marginalize political competitors and others who have advocated for saner economic policies and political concessions.

The biggest protest was in Chile's capital Santiago, where more than 1,000 demonstrated against the election. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the nation and starvation is rampant.

"Venezuela's elections do not meet the minimum standards for a true democracy". National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena acknowledged a handful of complaints, but insisted they were minor compared to past elections.

Even before it took place, Canada, the European Union, the United States and a dozen Latin American countries said they would not recognize the results.

Vice President Mike Pence said Maduro was bringing further misery to his people and refusing global humanitarian aid.

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