Venezuela opposition demands vote recount
Updated: 2013-04-16 10:31
About 200 pro-opposition students protested in another upscale district, trying to enter a hotel where unofficial foreign election observers were meeting. Outside opposition campaign headquarters, protesters shouted "No more fraud".
The controversy around Venezuela's first presidential election without Chavez on the ballot in two decades ushered in new uncertainty in the OPEC nation of 29 million people.
Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles demonstrate for a recount of the votes in Sunday's election, in Caracas, April 15, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
It also raised doubts about the future of "Chavismo", Chavez's self-proclaimed socialist movement, without its charismatic founder.
In his last public speech, Chavez named his longtime protege Maduro as his preferred successor, giving the burly former bus driver a huge boost heading into Sunday's election.
But neither the endorsement nor the burst of sympathy following Chavez's death were enough to ensure an easy victory.
Maduro, who does not have Chavez's charm, saw his poll lead shrink in the final days of the campaign. Even then, the vote was a lot closer than most people expected.
Maduro's slim victory raises the possibility that he could face challenges from rivals within the disparate coalition that united around the towering figure of Chavez, who was an icon of the Latin American left.
Chavez comfortably beat Capriles by 11 percentage points and 1.6 million votes in October.
In this campaign, Capriles slammed Maduro as an incompetent and a poor copy of Chavez unable to fix the nation's many problems. He also offered a Brazilian-style mix of pro-business policies and strong welfare programs.
Maduro was unable to match his former boss's electrifying speeches but nevertheless benefited from a well-oiled party machine and poor Venezuelans' fears that the opposition might abolish Chavez's slum development projects.