Venezuela sets Prez election for April 14
Caracas (AP): Venezuelans will vote April 14 to choose a successor to Hugo Chavez, the elections commission announced as increasingly strident...
Caracas (AP): Venezuelans will vote April 14 to choose a successor to Hugo Chavez, the elections commission announced as increasingly strident political rhetoric begins to roil this polarized country. The constitution mandated the election be held within 30 days of Chavez's March 5 death, but the date picked falls outside that period. Critics of the socialist government already complained that officials violated the constitution by swearing in Vice President Nicolas Maduro as acting leader Friday night. Some people have speculated Venezuela will not be ready to organize the vote in time, but elections council chief Tibisay Lucena said the country's electronic voting system was fully prepared. Chavez's boisterous state funeral Friday often felt like a political rally for his anointed successor, Maduro, who eulogized him by pledging eternal loyalty and vowing Chavez's movement will never be defeated. Maduro is expected to run as the candidate of Chavez's socialist party. Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, coordinator of the opposition coalition, immediately followed the election announcement by offering his bloc's presidential candidacy to Henrique Capriles, the Governor of Miranda state, who lost to Chavez in October. David Smilde, an analyst with the US-based Washington Office on Latin America, said the opposition needs to run a candidate in the presidential election even though he believes it will almost certainly lose. Smilde said he isn't sure Capriles will accept the candidacy. If he says he doesn't want to run I could totally understand that," Smilde said. "He is likely going to lose, and if he loses this election, he's probably going to be done." In that case the opposition would be wise to run someone such as Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledesma or Henry Falcone, governor of Lara state and one of just three opposition governors, he said. That would give the opposition an opportunity to clearly articulate its platform and vision. The opposition has denounced the transition as an unconstitutional power grab, while the government moves to immortalize Chavez.