Caracas, Venezuela – Nicolas Maduro narrowly won Venezuela’s presidential election on Sunday amid protests from his opponents. Supporters released fireworks while opposition backers banged pots and pans in protest.
Maduro was late President Hugo Chavez’s vice president and protege. He took over as acting president when Chavez passed away early last month.
Officials declared Maduro the winner on Sunday night, saying he won 50.7 percent of the vote. His rival, Henrique Capriles, gained 49.1 percent. But, despite the National Electoral Council saying that the result of the vote was “irreversible,” Capriles refused to concede.
Instead, Capriles demanded a recount, saying that his campaign tally of votes came up with “a result that is different from the results announced today.” It is not clear if Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, will be granted the request, though Maduro acquiesced the the possibility.
The president-elect responded, “Do you want an audit [of the votes]? Let it be done… so that there won’t be any doubt in the result.”
Maduro is a former bus driver and little-known union activist. But he rose to prominence when he became a Chavez confidante in the early 1990s. Now he is expected to lead Venezuela with the same socialist policies as his predecessor.
Chavez, who ruled the nation for 14 years, appointed Maduro his successor before going in for his last cancer surgery in December. It was the first time in the years he struggled with cancer that he named a successor. During a victory rally after the results were announced, Maduro stated:
“The fight continues! This was the first time without the giant candidate, but he left behind his ‘son,’ who is now going to be president and is going to show he is worthy of the fatherland.”
The electoral council reported that Maduro beat Capriles by almost 235,000 votes. After declaring victory in the election, Nicolas Maduro asked for Venezuelans to remain peaceful about the results.
[Image via Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr]