Image provided by Presidency of Venezuela shows incumbent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) shaking hands with his supporters during the presidential election in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, Oct. 7, 2012. Hugo Chavez has won the presidential election with 54.42 percent of the vote, Tibisay Lucena Ramirez, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced late Sunday. (Xinhua/Presidency of Venezuela)
CARACAS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelans re-elected incumbent President Hugo Chavez on Sunday, giving him another six-year mandate to pursue his "21st century socialism" project of greater nationalization.
Chavez, who has nationalized ever larger sections of the economy and initiated a wide range of programs benefiting the nation's poor, declared victory in the name of the 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar.
Dressed in a signature red shirt, Chavez, 58, led throngs of cheering supporters in celebration from the balcony of his Miraflores presidential palace and pledged to press ahead with a socialist revolution.
"Today we've shown that Venezuela's democracy is one of the best democracies in the world, and we will continue to show it," he said, brandishing a replica sword of Bolivar, who was born in Caracas.
"Venezuela will continue its march toward the democratic socialism of the 21st century," said Chavez, who won the third re-election in nearly 14 years in office. His new six-year term begins on Jan. 10.
Chavez also called on the opposition to unite with him and seek a peaceful future for the South American country.
"I would like to thank, first of all, the opposition leadership, because they have recognized the truth, the truth of people's victory," he said. "That is why I begin by thanking them, because we are all brothers in Simon Bolivar's fatherland."
"The voice of the majority must respect the voice of the minority. That is the first step towards our living in peace together," he added.
A fan of Bolivar, Chavez often says that his policy of expanding nationalization and increasing rights to the poor as a fulfillment of Bolivar's original plans some 200 years ago.
Between words, Chavez sang the national anthem to the crowd of supporters, who waved flags and wore red shirts of the Great Diplomatic Pole coalition that Chavez led to power again.
The election began at 6:00 a.m. (1030 GMT) and was supposed to close at 6:00 p.m. local time (2230 GMT). Many remained open beyond their planned shutdown because voters were still queuing up to vote.
The National Electoral Council said that with 90 percent of the ballots counted, Chavez garnered 54.42 percent of the vote, compared with 44.47 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who represents the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition.
Capriles, a 40-year-old law graduate, promptly conceded defeat at a televised press conference, saying that "For me, the will of the people is sacred. And I would like to thank the more than 6 million Venezuelans who placed their trust in me."
Chavez's victory speech marked a huge difference to the tone in the campaign, during which his supporters accused Capriles of seeking to destroy the social programs created by the Chavez government.
Capriles had been campaigning as a self-style "progressive," which he described was seeking an efficient implementation of social programs, rather than their abolition.
However, one of his allies called the programs as a "tremendous drain on the state" and documents leaked to the media ahead of the election day showed that MUD plans to slash eligibility and raise prices for such welfare programs.
Chavez received swift congratulations via social media from Cuba, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia, some of which he read to the audience in the city center of Caracas.
Sunday's election was widely considered free and peaceful. Five domestic observer groups and several international observer watchdogs monitored the elections.
Some 19 million Venezuelans were eligible to vote. Voter turnout was an unprecedented 81 percent, compared to 75 percent in 2006. Local television showed citizens queuing outside polling stations from as early as 5 a.m. local time.
The election was praised for its transparency and efficiency. Around 90 percent of the vote was counted by 10 p.m. thanks to automated voting systems across the nation. Voting machines were also laid out in a so-called "horseshoe" in most polling stations, a shape that allowed five people to vote secretly at the same time.
As Venezuela's youngest president at the age of 44 in 1998, Chavez embarked on reforming the constitution and reducing the power of Congress and easily won the 2000 election.
An opposition attempt in 2004 to oust him in a recall referendum was defeated by popular vote.
Elected to a second six-year term in 2006, Chavez then won a 2009 referendum that abolished the two-term limit and enabled him to run indefinitely.
CARACAS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Incumbent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won Sunday's presidential election with 54.42 percent of the vote, while opposition leader Henrique Capriles has accepted defeat and congratulated the socialist president. Full story
CARACAS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Incumbent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has won the presidential election with 54.42 percent of the vote, Tibisay Lucena Ramirez, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced late Sunday.
With 90 percent of the votes counted, Chavez, who will serve a third six-year term starting from January 2013, defeated opposition challenger Henrique Capriles, who represents the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition and gained 44.97 percent of votes. Full story
CARACAS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's incumbent President Hugo Chavez, who represents the ruling Great Patriotic Pole coalition, voted in the country's presidential election on Sunday, battling against Henrique Capriles from the opposition Roundtable for Democratic Unity.
Chavez promotes a policy he calls "21st century socialism" which pursues greater state control of the economy. His supporters say Capriles' "progressive" goals would undo the ruling party's intervention on behalf of the poor. Full story
CARACAS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who is challenging incumbent President Hugo Chavez for the presidency, on Sunday called on the country's top electoral body to announce the election results "as soon as possible".
Soon after casting his vote, Capriles urged the National Electoral Council (CNE) to publish the outcome of Sunday's vote quickly, saying Venezuelans were eager to know the results. Full story