Venezuela election results ‘manipulated’ by at least 1 million votes, polling company says

Election results decried by government opponents as a brazen power grab were manipulated by at least 1 million votes, the company that provided Venezuela with its voting system said Wednesday.

The disclosure came as Venezuela braced for a pivotal moment in its descent toward full authoritarian rule. The disputed vote on Sunday elected 545 pro-government legislators who will sit in a new super-congress vested with vast powers. On Thursday, they are set to enter the neo-classical building in central Caracas that houses members of the opposition-controlled legislature elected in 2015.

Some opposition lawmakers have vowed to remain inside and stand their ground, sparking fears of a violent crescendo to a week of undemocratic developments in this South American nation of 31 million people. Last month, pro-government gangs, known as colectivos, had entered the National Assembly and brutally attacked lawmakers and journalists.

That offered a taste of what may come on Thursday.

“They’re expecting to come forcibly into the parliament and try to dislodge us,” said Freddy Guevara, vice-president of the National Assembly. “And they’re wrong if they think we’re going to leave this palace. We don’t have arms. They’ll kick us out through bullets and rocks if they want to. But this assembly will continue in session.”

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