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Venezuelan people elect Nicolas Maduro as president to succeed Chavez

By staff

The people of Venezuela elected Nicolas Maduro as the new president on April 14 in a special election held after the unexpected death of President Hugo Chavez. Maduro, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), won 50.66% of the vote to defeat right-wing opposition candidate Henrique Caprilles, who earned 49.07%.

At around 11:20 p.m. on the night of April 14, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced the results, which were closer than the 2012 Presidential election when Chavez also defeated Caprilles by about 55% to 45%.

Shortly after the CNE announced the results, Maduro gave a speech in Caracas to supporters, in which he reaffirmed his commitment to Chavez's revolutionary pro-worker policies. Because of the close results, he welcomed the CNE to audit the results and called on the opposition to stand by the will of the Venezuelan people. Wielding a small blue copy of the Venezuelan constitution in his right hand, he ended his speech by paying homage to Chavez's legacy of social justice and anti-imperialism.

Despite no reported irregularities by the CNE or any of the 200 international observers, Caprilles, the son of a wealthy corporate oligarch linked to Kraft Foods, and the right-wing opposition call for a recount. Caprilles and the rich in Venezuela fear Maduro and the revolutionary process in Venezuela started by Chavez.

Maduro, a former bus driver and trade unionist, was announced by Chavez as his successor shortly before the former president's death. In his brief tenure as acting president, Maduro has strengthened relations with the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), which participates in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Maduro called the PCV an example of the great sacrifices and pains that “the struggles of revolutionaries have incurred.”

The April 14 election marks the 16th democratic vote taken on Chavez, the PSUV and the ongoing Bolivarian Revolution. The Venezuelan people have voted in favor of the Bolivarian Revolution in 15 of those 16 elections and referendums, indicating the overwhelming mass support for deepening and expanding the national democratic process.

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