Venezuelans are being asked to vote twice in a week in two conflicting polls

Venezuelans vote to choose members of the National Assembly in Caracas, on Sunday, in elections that have been largely rejected on the international stage.

(CNN)This week, Venezuelans are being asked to go to the polls not once but twice, in two bizarrely conflicting electoral events.

On Monday, December 7, the government of embattled president Nicolas Maduro celebrated victory in parliamentary elections, largely rejected on the international stage.
Now, the opposition is holding a competing referendum to gather support and reject the outcome of the weekend's vote.
    It's the latest split-screen episode in a years-long saga of Venezuela's rival presidencies -- and some observers fear it may also be one of the last.
      For the past two years Venezuela has effectively had two dueling presidents.
        In May 2018, sitting president Maduro was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that was seen as shaky from the start. His opponents refused to concede the result, alleging fraud.
        Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shows his ballot at the weekend elections, ahead of a competing referendum by the opposition this week.
        Even Smartmatic, the electoral product company that had managed previous elections in Venezuela, said it could not guarantee the validity of election results.
          But Maduro paid little notice and inaugurated his second term.
          This led the opposition to rally around the president of Venezuela's Parliament, a young lawmaker named Juan Guaidó, who -- according the constitution -- must rule ad interim should the presidency be vacant.
          Guaidó was sworn in as interim president in January 2019. More than 60 countries have recognized his presidency, including the EU, the UK, Canada and most of Latin America.
          But Maduro kept the support of China, Russia, Cuba and Iran, and control of the state apparatus, so while Guaidó's claim is de jure, Maduro is the de facto ruler in the capital city, Caracas.
          By staging competing elections, both parties are now essentially trying to build up their claims of legitimacy: Maduro by expanding control of state institutions in order to please international creditors, and the opposition by organizing their own parallel event to urge the international community not to abandon them and their supporters.

          Maduro's gamble

          According to official results released early on Monday, Maduro's party received 67% of the ballots in a vote where fewer than one in three voters bothered to turn up.
          Despite the low turnout, Maduro celebrated the result, hailing Sunday's election as "a great victory for the democracy and the constitution."
          Both the US and the EU have already announced they will not recognize Sunday's parliamentary election, but the new parliament it creates will nevertheless work on Maduro's behalf and further strengthen his control of the state.
          According to the Venezuelan constitution, commercial treaties and oil deals must be ratified by Parliament to go into effect. Clearing out the conflict between the executive and the once-independent legislature is seen as desirable for international creditors, such as China, who continue to invest in the flagging Venezuela oil industry.
          Venezuela election comes amid humanitarian crisis, hunger