Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights

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Two-hour Take-home

David Smilde

A couple of hours after the results were announced, here are my initial reactions. Winning by 9.5% represents a real decline from the three previous presidential elections which Chávez has won by 15 to 20%. However it is still a decisive victory that Chávez accepted with grace. While previous victories have led to vitriolic triumphalism, tonight Chávez was more circumspect in his celebration.

Capriles recognized the electoral defeat quickly and gave no encouragement to the “plan B” of saying the electoral playing field was unfair. Indeed he actively discouraged the “creative radicalism” of some elements of the opposition. This would seem to reinforce the predominance of the new generation of opposition politicians represented by Capriles and campaign manager Armando Briquet. However, the fact that Capriles did not make any reference to the December regional elections suggests to me that not all is settled in the opposition camp. If Capriles had lost by 5% or less, his dominance in the opposition coalition would have been ensured. But losing by almost 10% means there could well be a struggle for leadership.

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Filed under Venezuelan election Henrique Capriles Hugo Chavez International community