Venezuelan presidential election, 2013
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A presidential election was held in Venezuela on 14 April 2013 following the death of President Hugo Chávez on 5 March 2013. Voters gave Nicolás Maduro—who had assumed the role of acting president since Chávez's death—a narrow victory over his opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski, the Governor of Miranda. Capriles had run in the previous election less than a year before, losing to Chávez by an 11-point margin. This time the margin of victory was much smaller. The Venezuelan authorities announced that voting went smoothly and that there was no evidence of any irregularities with almost 200 international observers overseeing the voting.
Capriles has refused to accept the results of the election, claiming election irregularities and calling for a full audit of the election results. Maduro has stated that he will accept an audit of the election results while the election board has not agreed to opposition demands for a total recount.
Following Chávez's victory in the 2012 presidential election, he went to Cuba for cancer treatment, returning to Venezuela to stay at an army hospital for continued treatment. On and after 10 January, opponents of Chávez unsuccessfully called for presidential elections to be held after he was unable to be sworn into office due to his illness. Unofficial campaigning had already begun before Chávez's death.
Great Patriotic Pole
Venezuela's foreign minister announced Nicolás Maduro as interim president. Maduro was chosen by Hugo Chávez as his successor and became the presidential candidate for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Democratic Unity Roundtable
The opposition has agreed on 2012 candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski as the candidate to run against Maduro. Capriles has announced that he has accepted the nomination and will compete against Maduro.
- Reina Sequera, union leader and former presidential candidate of the Workers' Power party.
- María Bolívar, lawyer and owner of the bakery "Mayami" in Zulia state and candidate for the United Democratic Party for Peace and Freedom (PDUPL).
- Eusebio Méndez, Christian pastor and candidate of New Vision for my Country (NUVIPA).
- Julio Mora, nominee of the Democratic Unity Party (UDEMO).
The most pressing issues were the high murder rate, particularly in the capital, the state of the economy, and land rights. The opposition accused Maduro of trying to use Chávez's memory and image to win votes.
The campaign was characterised by insults from both sides. Examples include Maduro calling Capriles "Prince of the Bourgeoisie" and "capricious", while Capriles described Maduro as "Satan" and as "bird brain", "great fool", and "liar". Maduro also "employed comments that were regarded as homophobic, calling Capriles a 'little princess' while declaring 'I have my woman, I like women'." In the campaign, Maduro sang a rap song in which he described his opponent as "the little bourgeois shit who shits himself of fear when the people raise their voice". He also implied that Capriles was gay, referring to him being unmarried. Capriles then said he loves so many women he can't decide. He also declared that Maduro's wife was ugly and asked who wants to be with her.
Capriles declined to sign a National Electoral Council of Venezuela document committing to recognising the result, as he had before the 7 October election, committing instead to "respect the popular will". Diosdado Cabello, leader of the PSUV, presented evidence, including phone recordings, emails, and other documents, supposedly demonstrating that the opposition has planned to not recognize the election results, possibly to stir international problems. He also expressed doubts about the credibility of the election, while Maduro said he was ready to accept the result. The last day of campaigning was 11 April.
On 12 April, Vice President Jorge Arreaza announced on national television that two Colombians had been arrested who had been posing as Venezuelan military officials and sought to disrupt the election. He also announced the finding of an arms cache said to be linked to Salvadoran mercenaries the government had previously accused of plotting to kill Maduro.
Throughout the campaign, Maduro had continued using similar anti-American rhetoric as Chávez had in the past. However, comments he made in private over the weekend before the election suggested a potential "détente" in United States–Venezuela relations. Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, who was in Venezuela during the election as an Organization of American States (OAS) representative, recounted how Maduro personally told him he "want[ed] to improve the relationship with the U.S. [and] regularize the relationship."
According to the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, 170 foreign observers were invited to witness the election.
|GIS XXI||March 2013||55.3||44.7|
|Results||14 April 2013||50.78||48.95|
The results came as a surprise, as Maduro was leading by double digit figures in most opinion polls conducted two weeks before the election. Furthering the unexpected closeness of the race was the fact that Chávez had defeated Capriles comfortably in October 2012 by a margin of more than 10%.
|Nicolás Maduro||Great Patriotic Pole||7,575,704||50.78|
|Henrique Capriles Radonski||Democratic Unity Roundtable||7,302,648||48.95|
|Eusebio Mendez||New Vision for my Country||19,475||0.13|
|María Bolívar||United Democratic Party for Peace and Freedom||13,278||0.08|
|Reina Sequera||Worker's Party||4,229||0.02|
|Julio Mora||Democratic Unity Party||1,928||0.01|
|Source: National Electoral Commission|
Results by state
- References would improve this section
|States/districts won by Nicolás Maduro|
|States/districts won by Henrique Capriles Radonski|
| Nicolás Maduro
| Henrique Capriles Radonski
The electoral commission declared that the results of the election were "irreversible." Nevertheless, Capriles Radonski refused to concede defeat and demanded a recount. He claimed that there were over 3,000 incidents of irregularity that needed to be investigated. Following a telephone conversation between Capriles and Maduro, the latter publicly promised he would permit an audit to be conducted on the results. Maduro also claimed that Capriles proposed a "pact," which he rejected.
After the election results were announced, car horns blared and fireworks were lit by Chavistas as celebrations took place in downtown Caracas. In contrast, opposition supporters protested by banging pots and pans in the streets, while some of Capriles' supporters gathered outside his party's headquarters in sorrow. Despite being scheduled to be sworn in as President on 19 April, the CNE proclaimed Maduro as president on 15 April, less than a day after the results were announced. He is scheduled to hold the office until January 2019.
After Capriles' call for the electoral commission not to officially proclaim Maduro the winner, National Guard troops and students clashed in Altamira Square. The troops used tear gas and plastic bullets to disperse the students who were pacifically protesting the official. At least 7 deaths and 61 injuries were reported throughout the country after the elections. Attorney-General Luisa Ortega Diaz claimed that the violence included the burning of several medical clinics, offices of the national telephone company, grocery stores and other businesses.
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- Starka känslor i Venezuelas valkampanj Sveriges Radio, 11 April 2013.
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- Spanish "Prensa Latina: Encuesta ratifica ventaja de Maduro con miras a comicios venezolanos", Prensa Latina, 2 April 2013. Retrieved on 2 April.
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- Vivian Sequera. "CHAVEZ HEIR CHARGES US IS BEHIND UNREST OVER VOTE US IS BEHIND UNREST OVER VOTE", 16 April 2013. Retrieved on 17 April 2013.
- Mogollon, Mery; Kraul, Chris Kraul. "7 killed in Venezuela postelection violence". Los Angeles Times. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2013
- Nicolás Maduro's official campaign website (Spanish)
- Henrique Capriles's official campaign website (Spanish)
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