Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela election in highly contested result

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Voters narrowly elected Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor as president today, in a razor-close election.

Click here to see photos of different reactions across the capital

Winner Nicolas Maduro campaigned on a promise to carry on Mr Chavez's self-styled socialist revolution and defeated a two-time challenger who claimed the late president's regime has put Venezuela on the road to ruin.

Officials say Maduro defeated Henrique Capriles by only about 300,000 votes. The margin was 50.8 to 49.1%.

Mr Maduro's stunningly close victory came after a campaign in which he promised to carry on Mr Chavez's self-proclaimed socialist revolution, while Mr Capriles declared that the Chavez regime put Venezuela on the road to ruin.

Mr Maduro, acting president since Mr Chavez's death from cancer, held a double-digit advantage just two weeks ago.

Chavistas set off fireworks and blasted car horns as they cruised through Caracas in jubilation.

There was no immediate word from the Capriles camp but Mr Maduro addressed a crowd from the presidential palace, calling his victory further proof that Mr Chavez "continues to be invincible, that he continues to win battles".

He said Mr Capriles had called him before the results were announced to suggest a "pact" but he had refused.

Mr Maduro, a long-time foreign minister to Mr Chavez, rode a wave of sympathy for the charismatic leader to victory, pinning his hopes on the immense loyalty for his boss among millions of poor beneficiaries of government largesse and the powerful state apparatus that Mr Chavez skilfully consolidated.

Mr Capriles' main campaign weapon was to simply emphasise "the incompetence of the state" in handling the world's largest oil reserves.

Millions of Venezuelans were lifted out of poverty under Mr Chavez, but many also believe his government not only squandered, but plundered, much of the one trillion dollars in oil revenues during his tenure.

Venezuelans are afflicted by chronic power cuts, crumbling infrastructure, unfinished public works projects, double-digit inflation, food and medicine shortages and rampant crime - one of the world's highest murdere and kidnapping rates - that the opposition said worsened after Mr Chavez died on March 5.

That discontent was thick across the nation.

"We can't continue to believe in messiahs," said Jose Romero, a 48-year-old industrial engineer who voted for Capriles in the central city of Valencia.

"This country has learned a lot and today we know that one person can't fix everything."

Turnout was 78%, down from just over 80% in the October election that Mr Chavez won by a nearly 11-point margin.

AP

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before