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Capriles comes up short in Venezuela; Chavez reign continues

Capriles comes up short in Venezuela; Chavez reign continues

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela addresses supporters following his reelection on Oct. 7, 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Despite a strong showing by Henrique Capriles Radonski, not surprisingly Hugo Chavez emerged victorious from Venezuela’s presidential election on Oct. 7, 2012. He won 54% of the vote to Capriles’ 45%. Over 80% of eligible voters participated, with little to no reports of fraud or coercion that I’ve read.

While still a comfortable margin, Capriles’ performance indicates that Chavez’s stranglehold on power may be loosening. Questions about the President’s health, the continuing decay of Venezuela’s infrastructure (as I wrote about several weeks ago), ballooning national debt, and significant economic struggles have led some to conclude that the term Chavez just won will be his last.

So we may not have seen the last of Capriles. He could always run in the next presidential election, and indications are that he will be involved in opposition governor races this December.

However the next Chavez term plays out, I hope it stays true to the democracy he claims exists in Venezuela. That would be a positive legacy for him to leave.

For more perspective on the Venezuela election from Caracas, check out FPA blogger Marie Metz’s post.



Scott Bleiweis

Scott Bleiweis writes on international relations topics for FPA. He has a M.A. in democracy studies and conflict resolution from the University of Denver, and a B.A. in Politics/International Studies from Brandeis University. Scott was formerly a Fulbright education scholar in Bulgaria (views in this blog are his own, and do not represent those of the Fulbright organization or U.S. government).

Scott supports Winston Churchill's characterization of the complex form of government known as democracy: “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”