Venezuela: Socialists dealt a blow as opposition wins landslide | The Guardian

Venezuela’s opposition has won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections in the oil-rich nation, which is mired in economic turmoil and violent crime. Candidates for the centre-right opposition seized a majority in the national assembly, with most of the results in, marking a major political shift in the country, which set out on a leftist path in 1999 under the late president Hugo Chavez and his project to make Venezuela a model of what he called “21st century socialism”. Five hours after polls closed the electoral commission said that the opposition had won 99 of the 167 seats in the national assembly. The socialist party won 46. Twenty-two additional seats were still undecided.

Venezuela: Long mighty, ‘Chavismo’ at risk in Venezuela’s election | Reuters

Polarized Venezuela heads to the polls this weekend with a punishing recession forecast to rock the ruling Socialists and propel an optimistic opposition to its first legislative majority in 16 years. Founded by the late Hugo Chavez, the Socialists’ long mighty “Chavismo” movement is facing public ire over shortages of goods from medicines to milk and the world’s worst inflation under his successor, President Nicolas Maduro. Defeat for “Chavismo” at Sunday’s vote would give the opposition a major platform to combat Maduro and deal a further blow to Latin America’s left after Argentina swung to the right in last month’s presidential election won by Mauricio Macri. If the opposition coalition wins a majority in Venezuela’s 167-seat National Assembly, it hopes to reduce the Socialists’ hegemony and tackle what it deems mismanagement, corruption and authoritarianism during their nearly 17-year rule.

Venezuela: Date set for elections after mounting pressure | Associated Press

Venezuela will hold legislative elections Dec. 6, election officials announced Monday after months of mounting pressure from local opposition groups and international observers. The South American country’s laws mandate that National Assembly balloting be held this year, but elections officials had delayed setting a date, raising concerns the contest would be canceled. In her announcement, elections council head Tibisay Lucena said the organization had always intended to set a date and was not reacting to public pressure. “These attacks and phony analyses from national experts and international figures have mostly been very ignorant,” she said. The date is timed to commemorate the first election of the late President Hugo Chavez, who launched the country’s socialist revolution when voters chose him overwhelmingly on Dec. 6, 1998.

Arizona: Two-time GOP loser changes party to Democrat, name to Cesar Chavez for new congressional bid | Arizona Capitol Times

Scott Fistler didn’t have much luck as a Republican candidate. He lost a 2012 write-in campaign against U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, then lost a 2013 bid for a Phoenix city council seat now held by Laura Pastor, Ed’s daughter. All that could change, though, just like Fistler’s name and party registration. After petitioning a state superior court last November and paying $319, Fistler now legally shares the name of the celebrated labor movement icon, Cesar Chavez. Earlier this year, Chavez (formerly Fistler) became a Democrat, and – before Ed Pastor announced his retirement from Congress – filed to run in the heavily Hispanic 7th Congressional District. In his petition for a name change, Fistler wrote that he had “experienced many hardships because of my name.”

Venezuela: White House dodges request urging Venezuelan government to hold recount of April election

Just like he did with the petition to deport CNN host Piers Morgan in December, President Obama has dodged calls by Americans to urge the South American country of Venezuela to hold a recount on its April 14 election. The petition, which was posted on the Administration’s “We the People” page on April 15, asks the Administration to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new Venezuelan government until there is a recount of the previous day’s vote. The election was held just a month after longtime leader Hugo Chavez passed away from cancer.

Venezuela: Opposition to Take Voter-Fraud Case to Supreme Court | Wall Street Journal

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who says recent presidential elections won by the ruling Socialist Party were marred by fraud and voter intimidation, demanded Monday that new elections be called, and said he would take his case to the Supreme Court. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Capriles acknowledged that arguing before the Supreme Court will be an uphill battle given its justices support the ruling party, but said it’s a necessary, final “local” step before he presents his case to international tribunals. “I have no doubt this will have to end up in international courts,” he said.

Venezuela: OAS offers support for recount after tight race in Venezuela | Caribbean360

Against the backdrop of demands for a recount, election authorities in Venezuela yesterday proclaimed Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor Nicolas Maduro as the country’s president-elect. “It was a result that was truly fair, constitutional and popular,” Maduro declared, while criticizing opposition leader Henrique Capriles’ refusal to concede. According to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, Maduro secured 50.8% of votes in Sunday’s election, while opposition candidate Capriles won 49.0%. The results were certified at a ceremony in Caracas by the country’s top election official who said Venezuela’s voting system had worked perfectly.

Venezuela: Government defends election result, backtracks on recount pledge | The Washington Post

Venezuela’s government on Monday defended a presidential election that authorities said gave interim leader Nicolas Maduro a six-year term, backtracking on a pledge he had made to permit an audit of ballots demanded by the opposition after the razor-thin victory. Henrique Capriles, who had challenged Maduro in the Sunday election, which was held six weeks after President Hugo Chavez’s death, insisted that he had won the vote and called for a hand count of all the paper ballots.

Venezuela: Opposition candidate demands recount after Chavez’s heir Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela presidency | Fox News

Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, won a razor-thin victory in Sunday’s special presidential election, edging the opposition’s leader by only about 300,000 votes, electoral officials announced. His challenger, Henrique Capriles, declared that he wouldn’t accept the results and called for a full recount. Maduro’s stunningly close victory came after a campaign in which the winner promised to carry on Chavez’s self-proclaimed socialist revolution while Capriles’ main message was that Chavez’s 14-year regime put Venezuela on the road to ruin.

Venezuela: Rivals rally supporters after clashes over election results | Chicago Tribune

Both sides in Venezuela’s political stand-off will hold rival demonstrations on Tuesday after authorities rejected opposition demands for a presidential election recount and protesters clashed with police in Caracas. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles says his team’s figures show he won the election on Sunday and he wants a full audit of official results that narrowly gave victory to ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro, the country’s acting president.

Venezuela: Venezuelan opposition candidate demands recount |

Denouncing election irregularities, Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski demanded a recount and said early Monday that he will not recognize the country’s presidential results “until every vote is counted.” His comments came less than an hour after officials said the man former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handpicked to be his successor had won the country’s presidential vote. With 99% of votes counted, Nicolas Maduro won 50.66% of votes, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena said, calling the results “irreversible.” Capriles won 49.07% of votes, she said.

Venezuela: Opposition says government broke election law | BBC

The Venezuelan opposition has made an official complaint against the government following allegations that it broke the law by continuing its electoral campaign on state television. On the eve of the election, acting President Nicolas Maduro appeared on TV visiting the tomb of Hugo Chavez. The opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said his opponent was “violating all the electoral norms”. On Saturday, he launched an internet channel to broadcast his own campaign. Despite this, he said he had been “respecting the electoral rules, but those in power don’t know anything other than the abuse of power”. Almost 19 million Venezuelans will have the right to vote on Sunday for a successor to Hugo Chavez. Voting will be electronic – one machine will identify voters’ fingerprints, and a second will recognise identity card numbers and register the vote anonymously.

Editorials: Venezuela’s Upcoming Election Won’t Be Any Fairer Than the Last One | The Atlantic

Venezuela’s first post-Chavez presidential election, taking place on April 14, has the unfortunate likelihood of suffering from the same shortcomings of the contest that occurred when Chavez was re-elected this past October: the vote was neither free nor fair but extraordinarily distorted by incumbent advantages and political intimidation. On October 7, Hugo Chavez was re-elected to a fourth term by a decisive margin, with 55 percent of the vote. In power since 1999, and emboldened with six-year terms and the right to indefinite reelection as a result of constitutional changes they forced through, the chavistas, now represented by Chavez’s anointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, appear as firmly entrenched as ever. Last October, the opposition candidate in next month’s contest, Henrique Capriles, mounted the most serious electoral challenge to Chavez since he assumed power, uniting disparate opposition forces, attracting many disillusioned former backers of Chavez, and giving hope to Venezuela’s youth in particular. If there had been a reasonably level playing field or an electoral climate free of the pervasive fear that Chavez’s forces provoked, Capriles might well have won the presidency. The April contest will be a rematch on the same unlevel playing field. Thus, it is unlikely that Capriles will secure the presidency.

Venezuela: Plots and sabotage: Chavez candidate spins conspiracy theories ahead of Venezuelan election | The Washington Post

Salvadoran mercenaries are plotting with Venezuela’s opposition candidate to assassinate interim President Nicolas Maduro. But wait, the plot thickens. Central American agents, along with former U.S. diplomats, are also plotting to kill the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles. Those are just two of the conspiracy theories that Maduro has put forth ahead of Sunday’s election to replace Hugo Chavez. Maduro, who is running as Chavez’s hand-picked successor, also says the government has launched an investigation to determine if someone — U.S. agents, he has hinted — inoculated Chavez with the cancer that killed him March 5.Opposition leaders called the allegation laughable, but government officials insist it’s no joke. Such conspiracy theories don’t seem all that wild to some Latin Americans who resent decades of U.S. meddling in their affairs. In Venezuela, relations with the U.S. deteriorated after Washington briefly endorsed a coup that toppled Chavez for two days in 2002.

Venezuela: Candidate Maduro puts curse on rival voters | BBC

The acting president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has put a curse on citizens who do not vote for him in next week’s election. He likened his main rival candidate, Henrique Capriles, to Spanish conquerors fighting indigenous people in the 16th Century. A centuries-old curse, he said, would fall on those who did not vote for him. Mr Capriles responded by saying the only curse for Venezuelans would be if Mr Maduro won the election. The country goes to the polls next Sunday to elect a successor to Hugo Chavez, the long-time leftist leader who died of cancer last month. Opinion polls suggest Mr Maduro, who was Chavez’s deputy, has a lead of at least 10 points over his rival.

Venezuela: Venezuela faces ‘undemocratic’ vote: election official | Global Post

Venezuela has a transparent voting system but the election to replace late leader Hugo Chavez will be “deeply undemocratic” because the government candidate has an unfair advantage over the opposition, a member of the electoral body said. Vicente Diaz, known as the dissenting voice on the five-member National Electoral Council (CNE), told AFP that it was impossible for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles to have as much media visibility as Chavez’s chosen successor, acting President Nicolas Maduro. “If we look at the national electoral eco-system, we stand before a deeply undemocratic election because the basic principle is that the candidates participate in equal conditions, and this is not the case,” Diaz said. Speaking on Tuesday, the day the campaign for the April 14 election formally kicked off, Diaz pulled out a local newspaper and showed a page with a Capriles campaign ad and another one for Maduro financed by the ruling PSUV socialist party. The daily, however, contained eight more pages of Maduro ads paid for by the government.

Venezuela: Ghost of Chavez dominates Venezuela election campaign | Reuters

Weeks after his death, Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez still leads supporters in singing the national anthem. The late president’s recorded voice booms over rallies for his protégé, acting President Nicolas Maduro, who stands under billboards of Chavez’s face and waves to crowds carrying signs emblazoned with his name. Maduro, who is favored to win a snap election triggered by Chavez’s death last month, rarely misses a chance to lionize the man many Venezuelans know as “El Comandante.” “All of the prophecies of Hugo Chavez, the prophet of Christ on this earth, have come true,” intoned Maduro at a rally celebrating the anniversary of the former president’s release from jail for leading a failed 1992 coup. “In eternity, or wherever you are, you must be proud because you left our people the greatest inheritance of all: a free and independent nation on the path toward socialism,” he said of the man loved by supporters as a savior but excoriated by adversaries as a dictator.

Venezuela: Capriles cries foul ahead of election | AFP

Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles accused acting president Nicolas Maduro of unfairly using state media and money in his campaign to succeed the late Hugo Chavez. The accusations come two weeks before voters choose a new president following the death of Chavez, the flamboyant leader who governed oil-rich Venezuela for 14 years and launched a self-styled leftist “revolution.” “The state media have become a propaganda wing of a political party,” Capriles alleged, referring to the socialist party of Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor. In free and fair balloting, candidates are supposed to have the same access and the same rights, Capriles told a press conference. But Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, is relying on “all of the state’s resources … and all of the state’s power structure” to run his campaign, Capriles charged.

Venezuela: Country readies for key post-Chavez election | BBC

As Venezuela prepares for 14 April elections – the first presidential poll without Hugo Chavez’s name on the ballot in almost two decades – the choice for voters appears as stark and as divisive as ever, the BBC’s Will Grant in Caracas reports. While he was alive, very few committed supporters of late President Hugo Chavez would ever openly criticise him. They had no time for opposition arguments about the government’s control of the media and the judiciary, and rejected the idea that Venezuela was living under a dictatorship. Rather, when there were complaints they tended to be over more immediate quality-of-life issues: infrequent rubbish collections or a lack of local sporting facilities. In pro-Chavez neighbourhoods – like 23 de Enero in the capital, Caracas – such problems were easily solved with oil money.

Venezuela: Police fire tear gas during clash ahead of vote | Reuters

Police fired tear gas in downtown Caracas on Thursday as anti-government student protesters clashed with supporters of late President Hugo Chavez in an increasingly volatile atmosphere ahead of next month’s election. Several hundred students were marching to the election board’s headquarters to demand a clean vote when they were blocked by government supporters who hurled stones, bottles and eggs at them, a Reuters witness said. Some of the students threw stones back, other witnesses said. “We were holding a peaceful march. … All we want is democracy,” said law student Eduardo Vargas, 19, whose eye was injured in the incident. “We’re all Venezuelans. We just want a fair vote.”

Venezuela: Government Cracks Down on Opposition Tweets as Election Heats Up | Bloomberg

Venezuela’s government is monitoring social networking websites for messages from the opposition that might destabilize the country in the run-up to next month’s election pitting Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor against the socialist leader’s former rival. Authorities today arrested a computer technician for allegedly sending “inappropriate” and “destabilizing” messages from a hacked account, Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said on state-owned television. He didn’t provide details of the messages. “We are going to be very watchful,” Reverol said. “We won’t permit one millimeter of destabilization.”

Venezuela: Date Set To Elect Chavez’s Successor | NPR

Venezuela’s elections commission announced Saturday that voters will go to the polls on April 14 to choose a successor to President Hugo Chavez, who died this week after a battle with cancer. The nation’s constitution mandated that an election be called within 30 days of Chavez’s death on March 5, but the scheduled date falls outside of that window. Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s vice president, was sworn in as interim leader on Friday. Opposition coalition leader and state governor Henrique Capriles, who ran against Chavez in the October election, has disputed Maduro’s right to be interim leader. Capriles is expected to be the opposition candidate against Maduro in the special election, though many in his party are concerned about the vote’s fairness.

Venezuela: New elections ruled out in Venezuela | Al Jazeera

Venezuela will not call fresh elections if Hugo Chavez’s cancer prevents him from taking office by January 10, the head of Congress said, despite a constitutional mandate that the swearing-in take place on that date.  “Since Chavez might not be here in on January 10, [the opposition] hopes the National Assembly will call elections within 30 days. They’re wrong. Dead wrong,” said Diosdado Cabello, the National Assembly’s president and one of Chavez’s closest allies, during a ceremony to swear in a recently elected governor. “That’s not going to happen because our president is named Hugo Chavez, he was reelected and is in the hearts of all Venezuelans.”

Editorials: End the electoral college | USA Today

Vladimir Putin had an election in Russia. This week, Hugo Chavez had one in Venezuela. Last spring, Nicholas Sarkozy lost one in France. In each case, the outcome was decided by the majority of voters in their country. Such direct democracy is a foreign concept in the USA, where we require neither direct voting nor a majority to lead our nation. The reason is an arcane institution: the Electoral College. In the U.S., presidents are not elected by the people but by 538 “electors” who award blocks of votes on a state-by-state basis. The result is that presidents can be — and have been — elected with fewer votes than their opponents. Indeed, various presidents have taken office with less than 50% of the vote. The question is whether a president should be elected by a majority of voters of at least one free country before he can call himself the leader of the free world. The Electoral College is a relic of a time when the Framers believed that average people could not be trusted with selecting a president, at least not entirely. This was consistent with a general view of the dangers of direct voting systems. Until 1913, U.S. senators were elected not by their constituents but by the state legislators. When we finally got rid of that provision with the 17th Amendment, we failed to change its sister provision in Article II on the indirect election of presidents.

Venezuela: Venezuelan Re-Elects President Hugo Chavez for 6 More Years | Latin American Herald Tribune

Venezuelans went to the polls both in the country and abroad on Sunday in reportedly massive numbers to decide who will govern Venezuela for the next six years on a sunny day marked by both calm and expectation, given that President Hugo Chavez, a leftist firebrand who has been in office for 14 years, was facing a stiff challenge from Henrique Capriles. The polls were open from 6 a.m. (1030 GMT) to 6 p.m. (2230 GMT), although the National Elections Council (CNE) said that Venezuelans in line at that later hour who had not yet cast their ballots would be allowed to do so. Some 19 million people are eligible to vote in the election.

Venezuela: Elections: The Stakes Are High | Fox News

Venezuelans are heading to the polls in what is considered one of Latin America’s most important elections in years. After 14 years in power, the polarizing and controversial socialist President Hugo Chávez faces his toughest challenger yet — the center-right candidate Henrique Capriles. When Chávez came to power in 1999 he was the first a wave of left-wing Latin America leaders known as the “Pink Tide” to gain high political office in the region.

Venezuela: Why the voting is more trustworthy than the polling |

Polling – or perhaps more importantly, the abuse of polling data – has a checkered history in Venezuela. I will never forget the day of the presidential recall referendum in 2004. I was sitting in the BBC studio in Washington, between a TV and radio interview, and the fax machine spat out a release from what was then one of the most influential Democratic polling and consulting firms in the United States: Penn, Schoen, Berland and Associates. “Exit Poll Results Show Major Defeat for Chavez” was the headline. The agency claimed to have interviewed an enormous sample (more than 20,000 voters at 267 voting centers), and found that Chávez had been voted out of office by a margin of 59% to 41%. I looked up at the producer who gave me the fax with more than a bit of perplexity. With good reason: the actual result of the referendum was the opposite: 58% to 41% against the recall. The Organization of American States and the Carter Center observed the election and made it clear that there was no doubt that the results were clean. Given the actual vote, the probability of the variation in PSB’s result was less than 1 chance in 10 to the 490th power, if you can imagine something that unlikely. The producer put the press release aside. “I’m not doing anything with this unless there’s another source,” she said.

Venezuela: High-Stakes Election in Venezuela | Council on Foreign Relations

The October 7 presidential election in Venezuela, which pits longtime president Hugo Chávez against former governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, presents Chávez’s most formidable electoral challenge to date. Although the three-term president retains popular support, Capriles has led a strong opposition campaign that has gained considerable momentum in the weeks leading up to the election. A defeat for the president could signal a significant shift in the country’s “socialist revolution,” its economy, and foreign relations. In the event of a reelection for Chávez, concerns linger over the conditions of his health and the trajectory of Venezuela’s future should he die in office. The October 7 vote has significant implications for the direction of Venezuela’s “socialist revolution,” as well as the country’s democratic landscape. Michael Penfold writes in a January 2012 Foreign Affairs article that “a Chávez defeat would signal the end of a leftist revolution that has radically transformed Venezuela and, some argue, Latin America in the twenty-first century,” while a Chávez victory would “inflict a fatal blow to a renewed opposition that has struggled, and now seems to be succeeding, to gain some traction in a socially polarized country.”

Venezuela: National Electoral Council Says Voting System is “Armoured” for Presidential Vote |

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) undertook its final test of voting machines yesterday as part of preparations in the lead up to the presidential vote on Sunday, when incumbent President Hugo Chavez will stand against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski. 600 voters representing each of Venezuela’s 24 regional states were brought to a large CNE warehouse in the central Miranda state for the test yesterday. While the participants voted on the 200 randomly selected machines, CNE technicians, representatives of the presidential candidates, and the electoral accompaniment mission from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) were able to assess the functioning of the voting system. The audit was also used to test the functioning of the electronic transmission of voting information to the CNE’s central totaling system.

Venezuela: Venezuela’s presidential election: The autocrat and the ballot box | The Economist

On September 12th a queue of stationary vehicles kilometres long blocked the coastal highway that leads out of Puerto Cabello. “Politics,” said a resident, wearily, by way of explanation. The politics in question were taking place beside the entrance to the port city’s weed-infested airstrip. A small group of supporters was waiting to escort Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition candidate in Venezuela’s presidential election, to a rally in town. A couple of hundred red-shirted supporters of President Hugo Chávez were throwing stones at them from across the highway as a sound system blasted out campaign songs. A pickup truck had been set on fire. “The opposition has no right to come here and deceive working people,” said Luis Rojas, one of the stone-throwers and also an employee of the city’s chavista mayor. Mr Chávez, a former lieutenant-colonel who preaches radical socialism and rails against American imperialism, is seeking to be elected president for the fourth time on October 7th. But after nearly 14 years in power, he faces an unprecedented electoral challenge to his autocratic regime. A previously weak and divided opposition, prone to political miscalculation, has set aside its differences to form a seemingly solid coalition of parties from the left and right, under the banner of the Democratic Unity coalition (MUD).