CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelans on Thursday awaited election results in former President Hugo Chavez’s home state, a stronghold of the ruling Socialist Party, four days after millions voted in regional competitions across the South American nation.

Socialists under President Nicolas Maduro won 19 of 23 gubernatorial positions in Sunday’s vote, and the opposition won three, according to a tally provided by the National Electoral Council on Monday.

The only obstacle is the state of Barinas, in western Venezuela, where Argenis Chavez, the current governor and brother of the late Venezuelan leader, is running for re-election as a socialist. Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, was from the state.

Freddy Superlano, a member of the party of opposition leader Juan Guaido, says he is convinced that the results, when published, will show that he has won the race. He bases this claim on vote tally sheets, the vast majority of which have been reviewed.

A Superlano victory at Barinas would be largely symbolic, as it would leave the opposition with four gubernatorial positions, the same number it held before the election.

Political cartoons about world leaders

The late results could also put the country’s new electoral council under a microscope. The government agreed in May to allow two opposition representatives to sit on the five-member council. The council did not respond to the request for comment.

The United States and many other Western powers have refused to recognize Maduro as the rightful president of Venezuela since he was declared the winner of a 2018 election described as fraudulent by Washington, the European Union and many neighbors of the United States. Venezuela.

The EU election observation mission is located in Barinas, said Isabel Santos, the head of the mission. Earlier this week, she said regional elections in Venezuela went under better conditions than previous polls, but declined to say whether the vote was free and fair.

She added that the mission’s final report would be delivered in late January or early February.

Diosdado Cabello, vice-president of the Venezuelan Socialist Party, severely criticized the EU mission.

“They (the observers) say they are coming in January, how come you think you can come to Venezuela whenever you want? No, my friend, you don’t!” Cabello said Wednesday.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Mayela Armas y Deisy Buitrago; written by Sarah Kinosian; edited by Paul Simao)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.