Venezuela Other


Hugo Chavez beats Henrique Capriles in the closest race yet

On 7 October, President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias - candidate for the coalition led by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and ruler of Venezuela for nearly 14 years - won the presidential elections with 55.3% of the votes. As a result, the Chavez administration will have another six-year term to implement further its so-called 21st century socialism, characterized by heavy state intervention in the economy. Although Chavez's victory was broadly expected, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski obtained significant 44.1% of the votes, which represents the tightest electoral outcome since Chavez took office in 1999. Going forward, the opposition, which ran together for the elections for the first time, now faces the challenge of remaining united ahead of the 16 December regional elections. Following the elections, concerns about Chavez's health have taken centre stage, with some analysts commenting on the possibility that he may leave office before his term ends. The question about how the so-called Chavismo will face up to a political transition is crucial, in particular as the Venezuelan constitution states that if the president is incapacitated within the first four years of his or her mandate, the vice-president will assume office and call for new elections within 30 days. President Chavez's recent appointment of former Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as Vice-President would therefore seem to mark him out as his possible successor.

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