“The electoral process showed the persistence of structural deficiencies, although electoral conditions improved compared to the three previous national elections.”

Venezuela’s regional elections last weekend happened under better conditions compared to the country’s elections in recent years but were marred by the use of public funds to benefit pro-government candidates, European Union monitors announced Tuesday, AP reports.

Sunday’s elections also were tainted by the disqualification of opposition contenders and the death of a voter in a shooting near a polling station, the EU group said in presenting preliminary findings after observing the contests across the South American nation.

The group was made up of members from European Union countries plus Norway and Switzerland who were deployed across Venezuela for the regional contests won overwhelmingly by pro-government candidates.

“The regional and municipal elections of November 21 were a first and crucial test for the return of most of the opposition parties to the elections in Venezuela,” said the group’s initial report, presented in the capital of Caracas. “The electoral process showed the persistence of structural deficiencies, although electoral conditions improved compared to the three previous national elections.”

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