Socialist leader Nicolas Maduro, was once again declared President of Venezuela in the latest elections in the country. For Mr Maduro, it was an effortless win. However, his success challenges the legitimacy of a vote plagued by lack of transparency and irregularities. According to the National Election Council, Maduro won 68% of the vote in the 93% of polling stations reporting, beating rival Henri Falcon by more than 40 points.
The disputed victory is likely to heighten international pressure on Maduro, as voter turnout was the lowest in a presidential race since the start of Venezuela's leftist revolution two decades ago. Even as voting was taking place on Sunday May 20th, a senior State Department official warned that the US might press ahead with threats of imposing crippling oil sanctions on the nation that sits atop the world's largest crude oil reserves.
The election "without any doubt lacks legitimacy and we categorically refuse to recognise this process", rival Henri Falcon told supporters before the results were announced.
Voter turnout in the three previous presidential elections averaged around 79%. Hugo Chavez, after taking office in 1999, eliminated mandatory voting in Venezuela.