Nicolas Maduro, the candidate for the Unitede Socialist Party of Venezuela, has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 50.66 percent of the vote against 49.07 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.
Maduro gave a victory speech immediately after, while Capriles initially refused to recognize the results.
The “first bulletin” results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 11:20 p.m. Venezuelan time, with 99.12 percent of the votes totaled, enough to give Maduro an irreversible victory.
Nicolas Maduro received a total of 7,505,338 votes, against 7,270,403 for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a difference of 234,935 votes. Total turnout was 78.71 percent of the electorate.
Given the closeness of the vote, Maduro’s speech focused mostly on assuring the validity of his victory, and the reliability of the electoral body.
“If they want to do an audit, then do an audit,” he said from outside the presidential palace. “We have complete trust in our electoral body.”
“We have the only electoral body in the world in which 54 percent of the total votes are audited,” he added.
Maduro also noted that in other countries presidents often win by slim margins, and that it is recognised as a victory, and said to opposition sectors that “this is no reason to create violence”.
CNE Rector Vicente Diaz immediately requested that 100 percent of the electoral results be audited in order to make the results more transparent.
“This tight result has lead me request the CNE to conduct a citizens’ audit of 100 percent of the ballot boxes,” he said. “The country needs it.”
Maduro immediately accepted the request, and said there was no problem in doing a complete audit: “Let’s do it! No problem. Perhaps they will find that my victory will be larger.”
Maduro supporters had gathered at the presidential palace to await the results, and remained to celebrate the victory after Maduro’s speech.
Meanwhile, opposition supporters awaited in the Caracas neighborhood of Bello Monte to hear their candidate’s concession speech.
Initial comments from various opposition leaders appeared to indicate that they were confident they had won, and that they would not accept defeat. Capriles wrote on his Twitter account hours before the official results were released that the government was planning to “change the results”.
“We warn the country and the world that there is the intention to change the will [of the people],” he wrote.
Upon the release of the official results, Capriles held a press conference in which he claimed that the victory was “illegitimate” and refused to recognize Maduro’s victory until all ballots are audited.
“I don’t make pacts with those who are corrupt or illegitimate,” said Capriles, assuring he would not agree to accept the results.
“The one who has been defeated is you and everything you represent,” he said referring to Maduro.
[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis. Venezuela Analysis will provide additional reporting, images and videos on the reactions to tonight’s historic presidential election result in the coming hours and days.]