CARACAS (TIP: Incumbent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won Sunday’s presidential election with 54.42 percent of the vote, while opposition leader Henrique Capriles has accepted defeat and congratulated the socialist president.
Speaking to supporters at his campaign headquarters in Caracas, Capriles said he had sent Chavez his “congratulations.” “For me, the will of the people is sacred,” Capriles said. “And I would like to thank the more than six million Venezuelans who placed their trust in me.”
Earlier, Tibisay Lucena Ramirez, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that after 90 percent of the votes being counted, Chavez defeated Capriles who gained 44.97 percent of the vote. Chavez supporters fired massive fireworks into the sky in celebration, as the result was announced. “We achieved an 80.9 percent participation rate, the highest participation rate in decades,” said Ramirez. Chavez, who has been in power since February 1999, will serve a third six-year term starting from January 2013. He has been seeking to extend his so-called “21st century socialism” project of greater nationalization and more rights for the poor. Capriles, a forty-something law graduate, is the candidate that has given Chavez his strongest challenge since coming to power.
Four other candidates participated in the race, a simple first-past-thepost contest with only one round. Shortly after the result was announced, Wilmer Barrientos, who organized the military operation providing security for electoral officials, appeared on national television to congratulate Chavez. Some 19 million Venezuelans were eligible to vote in Sunday’s elections The polling stations were supposed to close at 6 p.m, but many polling stations stayed open later because voters were still waiting outside to vote.