Econintersect: Socialist Hugo Chavez overcame a fifteen month bout with cancer (the outcome still uncertain) and a very strong challenge from a younger conservative candidate to win another six-year term as President of Venezuela. According to The New York Times, with nearly 90% of the votes tallied on Sunday night, Chavez held an insurmountable 54% to 45% advantage over his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Radonski, an experienced politician who has served as major of Caracas and governor of Venezuela's Miranda state, waged a vigorous and effective campaign. The result was a turnout exceeding 80% and a narrower than usual victory for Chavez.
Slightly different numbers for the results were published by CNN, which said that Chavez had 7.4 million votes and Caprilles 6.1% with 90% of the votes counted. That would correspond to 55% for Chavez and 45% for Caprilles. The difference between the results per The NYT and those from CNN are most likely just rounding differences.
The New York Times says that Venezuela has made social and economic progress for the poor under Chavez but the country is still one of the most troubled in the Americas. From The NYT:
Venezuela is mired in problems, including out-of-control violent crime, crumbling roads and bridges, power outages that regularly plague much of the country outside the capital. Oil production, the country’s mainstay, has plateaued in recent years, and other exports have not picked up the slack. The overall economy grew this year, largely because of a huge pre-election boost in government spending, but clouds loom. A devaluation of the Venezuelan currency, the bolívar, is widely seen as inevitable, and inflation, while lower than last year, remains stubbornly high.
Commenters in the press following the election results announcement felt that the closer victory this time could force Chavez more toward the political center in the coming term.
- Chavez Wins a Third Term in Venezuela Amid Historically High Turnout (William Neuman, The New York Times, 07 October 2012)
- Venezuelan election officials: Chave re-elected as president, defeats Caprilles (CNN Wire Staff, CNN, 07 Ocotber 2012)