President Hugo Chavez won re-election Sunday, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles and gaining six more years to cement his legacy and press ahead with his crusade for socialism in Venezuela.
Chavez, who spent heavily in the months before the vote, defeated his challenger Henrique Capriles by a margin of over 10% votes.
His rival, 40-year-old Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, was gracious in defeat, saying, “I accept and respect the decision of the people,” but it was a bitter pill for the opposition and many in the divided country to swallow.
Chavez will now have a freer hand to push for an even bigger state role in the economy and continue populist programs. He’s also likely to further limit dissent and deepen friendships with U.S. rivals.
Chavez won this re-election for the third time in last 14 years in office although he had won by a larger margin in last election in 2006 when he had won 63 percent of the votes.
Hundreds of Chavez supporters assembled before the announcement in front of the Miraflores presidential palace, setting off firecrackers, honking horns and holding signs as his campaign song blared.