Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez secured another six-year term in power after winning re-election despite a credible challenge from opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski. Chavez won 54 per cent of the ballots, while Capriles received 45 per cent, with participation at over 80 per cent of registered voters, the country’s electoral council said.
It was a surprisingly comfortable win for Chavez, who has been battling cancer and faced pointed criticism from Capriles over runaway inflation, rampant crime and widespread poverty despite Venezuela’s vast oil wealth.
“Venezuela will continue along the path of democratic and Bolivarian socialism of the 21st century,” Chavez told a crowd of thousands of supporters gathered in downtown Caracas. According to Reuters, another term at the helm will give the president the opportunity to “consolidate his control over Venezuela’s economy, possibly by extending a wave of nationalizations, and continue his support for left-wing allies in Latin America and around the world.”
Capriles, for his part, promptly recognized defeat and congratulated Chavez, though he reminded the incumbent that “there’s a country that is divided and to be a good president means to work for all Venezuelans.”