In Venezuela this past Sunday, the participation of voters was outstanding: 80% of the electorate turned out in a presidential election to choose Hugo Chávez’s successor.
However, numerous complaints about the electoral process in the days leading up to the elections leave a big shadow over the outcome. The results indicate a tight victory, with the candidate from the party in power, Nicolás Maduro, winning only by 1.7%.
The opposition has not recognized the results and called for a vote recount. Among the arguments: The campaign was characterized by a combination of the unlawful and unrestricted use of Venezuelan state resources to mobilize, advertise and distribute perks.
Voters were also reminded that they had to vote for the official option if they wanted to keep their benefits and pensions, and remain on waiting lists for housing.
Maduro did not depict himself as a leader on his own, but rather as the “son of Christ the redeemer” that Chávez was. Even so, almost 1 million Chavista votes shifted to Henrique Capriles.
This result shows that the Venezuelan electorate is basically divided in half and that the Capriles vote is not only made up by the “bourgeoisie” that Maduro mentioned in his bitter, high-flown victory speech. There aren’t 7.2 million wealthy people in Venezuela; a lot of the Capriles vote came from the masses, those from the poor, working and middle classes.
A vote recount is a process that is part of the laws of Venezuela and under the circumstances, a perfectly rational request.