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Venezuelan President Picks Successor, Party Wins State Elections Across Country
December 19, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly

On December 11, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced that Vice President Nicolas Maduro should be considered his successor, BBC reported. Chávez’s ill health over the past few months has led analysts to question the possible transfer of power, should he not survive until the end of his term. According to the Venezuelan constitution, an election must be held 30 days if the president does not complete the first four years of the six-year term. Chávez, who remains widely popular, “urged his supporters to vote for Maduro if a presidential election is held,” Voice of America reported. Chávez’s party, the United Socialist Party (PSUV), recently won 20 governorships out of the 23 state elections.

Maduro became vice president after Chávez’s recent re-election in October. According to BBC, although he is seen as loyal to the PSUV, “it will take time and effort to persuade many Chávez supporters that he is cut from the same cloth as the president.” He was the only member of the cabinet to retain a post, though several former ministers represented the PSUV in state elections. Former Vice President Elias Jaua ran for governor of Miranda, losing to former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who was defeated by Chávez in October.

Venezuelan state elections, which took place on December 16, reflected wide support for the PSUV. Chávez’s party gained two governorships, from 18 to 20 out of the 23 states. Jaua noted the impact of the elections: "This regional election has great strategic importance for the nation's daily life and political stability.” Nicmer Evans, a political analyst at Central University in Venezuela, claimed that the displaced ministers ran for governorships at Chávez’s request: "He wanted to put people he could trust to be loyal to him in these positions."

Participation for the state elections was considerably lower than for the October presidential election. BBC reported that 53 percent of eligible voters went to the polls on election day, versus 80 percent participation in the October election. Capriles implored citizens to participate in the state elections: "You can't achieve your dreams if you don't participate. From my heart, I exhort you to vote." Opposition supporters claimed many Venezuelans had already left for the upcoming Christmas holiday, Reuters reported.

Chávez has been diagnosed with cancer and has undergone several operations in Cuba. He has been in office since his election to the presidency in 1999 and has been re-elected three times.

For more news on Venezuela, please see:         
Venezuelans Re-elect President Hugo Chávez in Peaceful Election

BBC - Hugo Chavez allies win 20 of 23 Venezuela governorships

BBC - Hugo Chavez and Venezuela confront his succession



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