Venezuelan and International Reactions to Chavez’s Reelection, Final Votes Widen Margin of Victory
By Ewan Robertson
2012 presidential elections
Mérida, 8th October 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – There have been domestic and international reactions to the reelection of Hugo Chavez last night in Venezuela’s presidential election, while the final vote tally has widened Chavez’s margin of victory to almost 11%.
Chavez was reelected as Venezuelan president for the 2013 – 2019 period, defeating the challenge from conservative rival Henrique Capriles Radonski for the Roundtable of Democratic Unity coalition (MUD). It will be his third term in office under the 1999 constitution, and is his fourth election as Venezuelan president since 1998.
With 96.7% of votes totaled, Chavez has won 8,044,106 votes (55.11%), to Capriles’ 6,461,612 (44.27%), widening his victory to almost 11%, greater than announced in the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) “first bulletin” results on Sunday night.
The socialist president also won a majority in 22 of Venezuela’s 24 regional states, including the capital district and, by 0.5%, in Miranda, where Capriles is governor. The opposition candidate won in the Andean states of Merida and Tachira.
However, the opposition made significant gains on their showing in the 2006 presidential election, where Chavez won with 62.9% of the vote (7.309.080) to the then opposition candidate Manuel Rosales on 36.9% (4.292.466), a victory margin for Chavez of 26%.
Voter turnout, at almost 81%, is being reported as the highest rate of participation in Venezuelan electoral history.
Reactions: candidates and campaigns
Shortly after the CNE announced last night that Chavez was the winner, Chavez gave an acceptance speech from the presidential palace, Miraflores, while Capriles recognised his defeat.
Chavez’s new term will begin on 10 January, however he stressed to supporters that “for me, the new cycle begins today, we’re obligated to be better every day, more efficient, obligated to respond with greater efficiency the needs of the people”. He also promised “to be the best president that I have been in these years”.
As soon as the result was announced, Chavez supporters across the country began celebrations, with a large crowd already gathered outside the presidential palace.
In the Andean city of Merida, up to several thousand people spontaneously gathered in the city centre to celebrate. Andres Cigneros, a community media activist, told Venezuelanalysis.com that he felt the importance of the Chavez victory was “the continuance and deepening of socialism in Latin America, marking the course that the peoples of Latin America must follow in the search of emancipation, true freedom, and complete independence”.
The city also witnessed a large motorcade on Monday afternoon of Chavez supporters celebrating their victory.
Today the two candidates shared a “pleasant” telephone conversation in which Chavez invited Capriles and the opposition “to respect our differences,” while Capriles urged Chavez to promote national unity and “respect for all,” according to the candidates’ twitter accounts.
Meanwhile, the secretary of Capriles’ MUD coalition, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, reacted to the result in a press conference today, saying, “Yes we’re sad, but not depressed…we know what we need to do; continue constructing an alternative, a path”.
The MUD will name a commission to look at errors made during the campaign. “We want to increase unity, be more united and seek to conquer more sectors of the country,” Aveledo affirmed.
In a press conference with Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello congratulated the MUD for recognising the CNE’s election results.
He described today as “a day that allows us to hold our heads head high, happy in the country and ready to begin a new period in government”.
Today the Unasur (Union of South American Nations) electoral accompaniment mission to the election heaped praise upon Venezuela’s electoral system and democracy.
“Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world, and this is important,” said the mission’s head, Argentine Carlos Alvarez.
Alvarez also had words for voices in the international community which “put in doubt the functioning of democracy in Venezuela… This was negative, that people doubted how elections were won in Venezuela, and what the (Venezuelan) people have done is teach a lesson to the international community,” he said, continuing that “Venezuela has strengthened democracy in the nation and the region”.
Finally, Alvarez praised Venezuela’s CNE as undertaking “extraordinary work” in the election, providing an example to help “achieve the construction of a South American electoral system”. Noting that all candidates had recognised the election result, he further praised the “high reliability” and “technological excellence” of the automated voting system.
Governments across the world have congratulated Hugo Chavez on his reelection, including in allied Latin American states such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador, upon which a Chavez win was perceived as important for maintaining preferential oil deals and solidarity-based alliances.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Russia, Spain and Belarus are among governments that have congratulated Chavez and the conduct of the Venezuelan election. Solidarity groups from around the world also publicly welcomed the result.
A US State Department spokesperson congratulated the high participation and “pacific” nature of the Venezuelan election, and urged that the over six million people who voted for the opposition be “taken into account” by the Chavez government.
Venezuelanalysis.com has published an image set of the celebrations in Venezuela of Chavez’s victory.