Venezuelan presidential election, 2013
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Maduro, Blue denotes those won by Capriles.
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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 (being 1.49%), and thus became the closest Presidential Election of the country since the 1968 election.
Capriles refused to accept the results of the election, claiming election irregularities, despite the electoral council's post-election audit of a random selection of 54% of votes, comparing the electronic records with the paper ballots, which showed no problems. Capriles initially called for an audit of the remaining 46% of votes, asserting that this would show that he had won the election. The election council agreed to carry out an audit, and planned to do so in May. Later Capriles changed his mind, adding demands for a full audit of the electoral registry (with validation of all fingerprints and signatures in the records), and calling the audit process "a joke" when the election council declared this "impossible" on the grounds that it would take "years". On 12 June 2013 the results of the audit were announced. The National Electoral Council (CNE) had found no discrepancy with the initial results and confirmed Maduro's electoral victory.
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.
Since 1998 elections in Venezuela have been highly automated, and administered by a non-partisan National Electoral Council, with poll workers drafted via a lottery of registered voters. Polling places are equipped with multiple high-tech touch-screen DRE voting machines, one to a "mesa electoral", or voting "table". After the vote is cast, each machine prints out a paper ballot, or VVPAT, which is inspected by the voter and deposited in a ballot box belonging to the machine's table. The voting machines perform in a stand-alone fashion, disconnected from any network until the polls close. Voting session closure at each of the voting stations in a given polling center is determined either by the lack of further voters after the lines have emptied, or by the hour, at the discretion of the president of the voting table.
As part of the election administration the National Electoral Council planned a post-election audit of 54% of polling places, comparing the electronic records with the paper trail.
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
- 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.
Over the weekend before the election Maduro made comments in private suggesting 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.
Throughout the campaign, Maduro had continued using similar anti-American rhetoric ad motifs as Chávez had in the past.
|GIS XXI||March 2013||55.3||44.7|
|Results||14 April 2013||50.6||49.1|
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||7,587,579||50.61|
|Henrique Capriles Radonski||Democratic Unity Roundtable||7,363,980||49.12|
|Eusebio Mendez||New Vision for my Country||19,498||0.13|
|María Bolívar||United Democratic Party for Peace and Freedom||13,309||0.08|
|Reina Sequera||Worker's Party||4,241||0.02|
|Julio Mora||Democratic Unity Party||1,936||0.01|
|Source: National Electoral Commission|
Results by state
|States/districts won by Nicolás Maduro|
|States/districts won by Henrique Capriles Radonski|
|Henrique Capriles Radonski
Source: National Electoral Council
Red font color denotes states won by President Maduro; blue denotes those won by Governor Capriles.
States/districts where the margin of victory was under 5%:
- Carabobo 1.27%
- Capital District 3.13%
- Bolívar 3.96%
- Lara 4.31%
- Zulia 4.45%
- Barinas 4.50%
States where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10%:
- Miranda 5.01%
- Amazonas 5.04%
- Anzoátegi 5.13%
- Nueva Esparta 6.04%
- Falcón 6.27%
- Aragua 8.45%
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. 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 protesting the official results, while the students hurled chunks of concrete and stones back at the troops on a highway in Caracas At least 7 deaths and 61 injuries were reported throughout the country after the elections. Attorney-General Luisa Ortega Diaz said that the violence included the burning of several medical clinics, offices of the national telephone company, grocery stores and other businesses.
Opposition legislators still do not want recognize Nicolas Maduro as the elected president. On 30 April President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello announced that he would not allow opposition legislators to speak on the floor of the National Assembly until they recognize Nicolas Maduro as president. In response, opposition legislators prepared to disrupt proceedings, arriving with a large Golpe al Parlamento (Coup in the Parliament) banner and interrupting the session with whistles and air horns. Violence then broke out, and legislators from both sides were injured. Deputy María Corina Machado sustained several fractures to the nose. Opposition legislator Julio Borges, who suffered head injuries, said that the opposition had been "brutally attacked" in a word-less assault, and demanded prosecutors investigate the incident. The Human Rights Foundation condemned the assault, with HRF president Thor Halvorssen Mendoza claiming that "the PSUV approved of the attacks against opposition deputies at the National Assembly." Videos aired by state television showed opposition legislators who had gathered at the front of the chamber to assert their right to speak shoving away government legislators who tried to intervene, and an opposition legislator throwing chairs at officials before legislators exchanged blows. Cabello declared that the whole incident had been planned by the opposition, citing one opposition legislator who had attended the session wearing a motorcycle helmet.
The electoral commission declared that the results of the election were "irreversible." after the planned post-election audit of a random selection of 54% of votes turned up no problems when comparing the electronic vote with the paper ballot totals. Nevertheless, Capriles Radonski refused to concede defeat and raised accusations of fraud, demanding an audit of the remaining 46% of the votes. Reuters on 18 April said that "[Capriles] has so far publicly presented little in the way of smoking-gun evidence to show the vote was stolen, though his campaign alleges more than 3,000 irregularities from armed thugs in polling stations to mismatches on tally sheets." Following a telephone conversation between Capriles and Maduro, the latter publicly promised he would permit an additional audit to be conducted on the 46% of votes not already audited. Maduro also claimed that Capriles proposed a "pact," which he rejected.
On 19 April the CNE agreed to audit the remaining 46% of votes which had not already been audited. This was initially accepted by Capriles, who said he believed this second audit would vindicate his fraud claims. Capriles later rejected the audit, after his demands that the audit include the electoral registry as well as the voting records themselves - with detailed examination of voters' signature and fingerprint records - was rejected by the CNE as "impossible". A Capriles spokesman said "We are asking for complete access to the electoral registry, not only to count how many people voted but also to audit all of the details, to audit the people that voted to see if there are dead people who voted, or foreigners, or duplicates, and to see if there are fake fingerprints..." He also demanded the CNE validate the uniqueness of every fingerprint, by comparing it to every other in its system, and validate every signature. The CNE said that the electoral registry had already been checked before the elections, with the checks signed off by the opposition - and that the validation exercise demanded would take five years, given the hours needed to verify each of 15 million signatures and fingerprints. Capriles said that without an audit of the electoral registry, an audit of the votes was "a joke". The CNE's audit of the remaining 46% of votes is to be completed between 6 May and 4 June.
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