Skip to main content

Venezuelan opposition candidate demands recount

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 1:48 AM EDT, Mon April 15, 2013
Nicolas Maduro waves at supporters after casting his vote in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday.
Nicolas Maduro waves at supporters after casting his vote in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Capriles demands a recount
  • Election officials say Maduro won the vote
  • Twitter accounts for Maduro and his party are hacked
  • Official: 43 people were detained for alleged electoral crimes

(CNN) -- Denouncing election irregularities, Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski demanded a recount and said early Monday that he will not recognize the country's presidential results "until every vote is counted."

His comments came less than an hour after officials said the man former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handpicked to be his successor had won the country's presidential vote.

With 99% of votes counted, Nicolas Maduro won 50.66% of votes, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena said, calling the results "irreversible." Capriles won 49.07% of votes, she said.

Fireworks erupted over Caracas as Maduro spoke to cheering supporters, calling on Venezuelans to respect the results and respond peacefully.

"I have won by nearly 300,000 votes. It is the decision of the people," he said.

The closely watched election was the second time in just over six months that voters in the South American country cast ballots in a presidential election.

Venezuela's presidential race heats up

Chavez, who ruled Venezuela for 14 years, celebrated a triumphant re-election victory in October. After his death on March 5, authorities announced new elections to select his successor.

Maduro, 50, was the United Socialist Party of Venezuela's candidate. Capriles, 40, represents a coalition of opposition parties.

Capriles is the former governor of Miranda state. He lost to Chavez in October's presidential vote, coming within 10 percentage points of the longtime leader. It was a significant gap, but the closest any opposition candidate ever came to defeating Chavez during his rule.

More than 18.9 million Venezuelans are registered to vote in the presidential election.

More than 68% of the country's registered voters had cast ballots by 3 p.m. Sunday, elections officials said.

Far beyond Venezuela's borders, voters lined up at diplomatic offices around the world.

Venezuela's National Electoral Council says that more than 100,000 Venezuelans are registered to vote abroad at diplomatic offices in 88 countries. There are more than 37,681 Venezuelans registered to vote in the United States, according to government figures.

By midafternoon, thousands had cast ballots in New Orleans. Many said they had traveled by car or bus for more than 12 hours to get there from Florida because Venezuela shut down its consulate in Miami last year.

Beatriz Olavarria, who worked to mobilize voters, said it wasn't easy. While campaigning lasted for months before October's election, this time around, the official campaign period was only a matter of days.

"It was much more difficult because the time has been short, and the budget has been low," she said Sunday, "but the excitement has been enormous."

In addition to representatives from national organizations serving as observers, Venezuela's National Electoral Council says 170 foreigners have been invited to witness the elections in Venezuela. The international group includes delegations from the Union of South American Nations and the Atlanta-based Carter Center.

Authorities detained 43 people Sunday for alleged electoral crimes, Maj. Gen. Wilmer Barrientos told reporters.

But elections officials said Sunday evening that the day had proceeded smoothly without major incidents.

"It has developed with total normalcy, with total calmness," said Sandra Oblitas of the National Electoral Council.

Polls were scheduled to close at 6 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET), but Barrientos said polling stations where voters remained in line would remain open until the last voter cast a ballot.

As polls were closing on Sunday evening, Twitter accounts for Maduro and his party were apparently hacked with posts denouncing "electoral fraud." A group calling itself Lulz Security Peru claimed responsibility, while officials from Maduro's campaign criticized what they said were "dirty tactics," blaming right-wing political opponents for the hacking.

Both candidates' campaigns called on Venezuelans to await official results calmly earlier Sunday.

But they also appeared to be bracing for a fight, with opposition leaders decrying what they said were election irregularities and Maduro's campaign vowing to defend the election results.

Capriles said in a Twitter post that some officials want to change "the desire expressed by the people."

Jorge Rodriguez, the head of Maduro's campaign, stressed that the election had been fair and called on Maduro's supporters to gather in front of the presidential palace.

"We will recognize the results, whatever they are," he said. "And in this we say, that in the scenario that the anti-Chavista candidate wins by one vote, we will recognize it, but in the scenario that we win by at least one vote, we are going to defend this victory with the people of Venezuela."

CNN's Fernando del Rincon, Patricia Janiot and Paula Newton contributed to this report from Caracas. CNN's Gustavo Valdes contributed to this report from New Orleans and CNN's Claudia Dominguez contributed from Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT