In Venezuela, the people went to the polls in an exemplary way.
This past Sunday, April 14, 79.8% of the electorate participated in the presidential election to choose Hugo Chávez’s successor, a very high turnout even if slightly lower than the one reached last Octobre in the previous elections.
However, the electoral process during the days before the voting and on Sunday was not as exemplary as the people themselves. The results indicate a tight victory, with the candidate from the party in power, Nicolás Maduro, winning by only 1.7%. The opposition did not recognize the results and called for a vote recount. 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 stay on waiting lists for distribution of 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 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.