Opposition leader Henry Capriles isn’t backing down on his demand for a recount of Venezuela’s Sunday special election results in the wake of Hugo Chavez’s death last month, insisting that the barely more than one percentage point Nicolas Maduro ostensibly has over him is very likely ill-begotten:
Maduro won the snap election — called following the March 5 death of Hugo Chávez, who had himself won reelection over Capriles in October 2012 — with 7.505 million votes, or 50.7 percent. Capriles, who polls had trailing far behind Maduro, racked up 7.270 million, or 49.1 percent, according to the CNE. But Capriles immediately called foul and said he wouldn’t accept the results unless the agency undertook a full audit.
“We are not going to recognize the results until every vote is counted,” said Capriles after the CNE released preliminary results. “The people’s voice is sacred and needs to be respected. The people’s will is everything.”
At least one CNE board member, Vicente Díaz, also called for a full recount, citing irregularities during the vote ranging from intimidation to posting campaign posters too close to ballot sites. The unfolding impasse promises to plunge Venezuela into its worst political crisis since a 2004 recall vote against Chávez resulted in almost a yearlong governmental and economic paralysis.
Maduro had been slated to win by at least several percentage points, but a highly emotional campaign in which he focused more on Hugo Chavez appearing to him in the form of a bird than he did the terrible state of Venezuela’s troubled economy probably did something to shift some public opinion in Capriles’ favor. His camp claims that Capriles actually won by about 300,000 to 400,00 votes, and they aren’t ready to throw in the towel — and the U.S. State Department doesn’t sound too satisfied with the situation, either, according to deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell. Via Breitbart:
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Capriles has too many means for recourse, especially with the long-installed Chavismo influences fighting his claims tooth and nail by any means necessary. Whether or not this thing turns into a full-blown legitimacy crisis, though, Maduro is going to have to start his tenure with a clearly divided country on his hands, and a wretched economy to boot.