Venezuela Gives Chávez Protégé Narrow Victory

(From The New York Times)

CARACAS, Venezuela — In an unexpectedly close race, Venezuelans narrowly voted to continue Hugo Chávez’s revolution, electing his handpicked political heir, Nicolás Maduro, to serve the remainder of his six-year term as president, officials said late Sunday.

But the thin margin of victory could complicate the task of governing for Mr. Maduro, emboldening the political opposition and possibly undermining Mr. Maduro’s stature within Mr. Chávez’s movement.

His opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski, refused to recognize the results, citing irregularities in the voting and calling for a recount.

Mr. Maduro, the acting president, narrowly defeated Mr. Capriles, a state governor who ran strongly against Mr. Chávez in October. Election authorities said that with more than 99 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Maduro had 50.6 percent to Mr. Capriles’s 49.1 percent. More than 78 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

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