Open main menu

2013 Venezuelan presidential election

Presidential elections were held in Venezuela on 14 April 2013 following the death of President Hugo Chávez on 5 March 2013.[1] Voters gave Nicolás Maduro—who had assumed the role of acting president since Chávez's death—a narrow victory over his opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski, the Governor of Miranda. Capriles had run in the previous election less than a year before, losing to Chávez by an 11-point margin. This time the margin of victory was much smaller (being 1.49%), and thus became the closest Presidential Election of the country since the 1968 election.

Venezuelan presidential election, 2013

← 2012 14 April 2013 (2013-04-14) 2018 →
  Nicolas Maduro in Brasilia.jpg Henrique Capriles en Lara, Venezuela.jpg
Candidate Nicolás Maduro Henrique Capriles
Alliance GPP MUD
Home state Capital District Miranda
States carried 15 + CD 8
Popular vote 7,587,579 7,363,980
Percentage 50.6% 49.1%

Results by state.
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Maduro, Blue denotes those won by Capriles.

President before election

Nicolás Maduro

Elected President

Nicolás Maduro

Capriles refused to accept the results of the elections, claiming election irregularities, despite the electoral council's post-election audit of a random selection of 54% of votes, comparing the electronic records with the paper ballots, which showed no problems.[2] Capriles initially called for an audit of the remaining 46% of votes, asserting that this would show that he had won the election. The election council agreed to carry out an audit, and planned to do so in May.[2][3] Later Capriles changed his mind, adding demands for a full audit of the electoral registry (with validation of all fingerprints and signatures in the records), and calling the audit process "a joke" when the election council declared this "impossible" on the grounds that it would take "years".[3] On 12 June 2013 the results of the audit were announced. The National Electoral Council (CNE) had found no discrepancy with the initial results and confirmed Maduro's electoral victory.[4]

Maduro was sworn in as the new president on 19 April,[5] The Supreme Court of Justice denied Capriles' appeal on 7 August 2013.[6]



Following Chávez's victory in the 2012 presidential election, he went to Cuba for cancer treatment, returning to Venezuela to stay at an army hospital for continued treatment. On and after 10 January, opponents of Chávez unsuccessfully called for presidential elections to be held after he was unable to be sworn into office due to his illness.[7] Unofficial campaigning had already begun before Chávez's death.[8]

Electoral processEdit

Since 1998 elections in Venezuela have been highly automated, and administered by a pro-government National Electoral Council, with poll workers drafted via a lottery of registered voters. Polling places are equipped with multiple high-tech touch-screen DRE voting machines, one to a "mesa electoral", or voting "table". After the vote is cast, each machine prints out a paper ballot, or VVPAT, which is inspected by the voter and deposited in a ballot box belonging to the machine's table. The voting machines perform in a stand-alone fashion, disconnected from any network until the polls close.[9] Voting session closure at each of the voting stations in a given polling center is determined either by the lack of further voters after the lines have emptied, or by the hour, at the discretion of the president of the voting table.

As part of the election administration the National Electoral Council planned a post-election audit of 54% of polling places, comparing the electronic records with the paper trail.


Great Patriotic PoleEdit

Venezuela's foreign minister announced Nicolás Maduro as interim president.[10] Maduro was chosen by Hugo Chávez as his successor and became the presidential candidate for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.[11]

Democratic Unity RoundtableEdit

The opposition agreed on 2012 candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski as the candidate to run against Maduro.[12] Capriles announced that he accepted the nomination and would compete against Maduro.[13]

Other candidatesEdit


The most pressing issues were the high murder rate, particularly in the capital, the state of the economy, and land rights. The opposition accused Maduro of trying to use Chávez's memory and image to win votes.[18]

The campaign was characterised by insults from both sides. Examples include Maduro calling Capriles "Prince of the Bourgeoisie" and "capricious", while Capriles described Maduro as "Satan"[19] and as "bird brain", "great fool", and "liar".[20] Maduro also "employed comments that were regarded as homophobic, calling Capriles a 'little princess' while declaring 'I have my woman, I like women'."[20] In the campaign, Maduro sang a rap song in which he described his opponent as "the little bourgeois shit who shits himself of fear when the people raise their voice". He also implied that Capriles was gay, referring to him being unmarried. Capriles then said he loves so many women he can't decide. He also declared that Maduro's wife was ugly and asked who wants to be with her.[21]

Capriles declined to sign a National Electoral Council of Venezuela document committing to recognising the result, as he had before the 7 October election, committing instead to "respect the popular will".[22] Diosdado Cabello, leader of the PSUV, presented evidence, including phone recordings, emails, and other documents, supposedly demonstrating that the opposition has planned to not recognize the election results, possibly to stir international problems.[23] He also expressed doubts about the credibility of the election, while Maduro said he was ready to accept the result.[24] The last day of campaigning was 11 April.

On 12 April, Vice President Jorge Arreaza announced on national television that two Colombians had been arrested who had been posing as Venezuelan military officials and sought to disrupt the election. He also announced the finding of an arms cache said to be linked to Salvadoran mercenaries the government had previously accused of plotting to kill Maduro.[25]

Over the weekend before the election Maduro made comments in private suggesting a potential "détente" in United States–Venezuela relations. Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, who was in Venezuela during the election as an Organization of American States (OAS) representative, recounted how Maduro personally told him he "want[ed] to improve the relationship with the U.S. [and] regularize the relationship."[26]


According to the pro-government Venezuelan National Electoral Council, 170 foreign observers were invited to witness the election.[27] Maduro–like his predecessor Chávez–was able to use government resources which included funds, establishments and workers to promote himself during his electoral campaigning.[28]

Following the death of Chávez, the Maduro campaign utilized the Hugo Chávez's cult of personality and Bolivarian propaganda to bolster electoral support.[29] Throughout the campaign, Maduro had continued using similar anti-American rhetoric ad motifs as Chávez had in the past.[30]

Opinion pollsEdit

Pollster Date Maduro Capriles Lead
Hinterlaces[31] February 2013 50 36 14
Datanálisis[32] March 2013 49.2 34.8 14.4
Hinterlaces[33] March 2013 53 35 18
IVAD[34] March 2013 53.8 31.6 22.2
Dataincorp[35] March 2013 61 26 35
Hinterlaces[35] March 2013 55 35 20
IVAD[36] March 2013 53.8 30.8 23.0
GIS XXI[37] March 2013 55.3 44.7 20.6
IVAD[38] March 2013 53.3 34.7 18.6
Datamática[39] April 2013 34.9 39.7 4.8
DatinCorp[40] April 2013 44 43 1
Hinterlaces[41] April 2013 54 37 17
Datamática[42] April 2013 30.6 42.1 11.5
Datanálisis[43] April 2013 54.8 45.1 9.7
Results 14 April 2013 50.6 49.1 1.5


The results came as a surprise, as Maduro was leading by double digit figures in most opinion polls conducted two weeks before the election.[11] Furthering the unexpected closeness of the race was the fact that Chávez had defeated Capriles comfortably in October 2012 by a margin of more than 10%.[44]

The voter turnout of 79.68% was less than one percentage point lower than in the October election.[11]

Candidate Party Votes %
Nicolás Maduro Great Patriotic Pole 7,587,579 50.61
Henrique Capriles Radonski Democratic Unity Roundtable 7,363,980 49.12
Eusebio Mendez New Vision for my Country 19,498 0.13
María Bolívar United Democratic Party for Peace and Freedom 13,309 0.08
Reina Sequera Worker's Party 4,241 0.02
Julio Mora Democratic Unity Party 1,936 0.01
Valid votes 14,990,543 99.55
Invalid/blank votes 66,937 0.44
Total 15,059,630 100
Registered voters 18,904,364 79.68
Source: National Electoral Commission
Popular vote

Results by stateEdit

States/districts won by Nicolás Maduro
States/districts won by Henrique Capriles Radonski
Nicolás Maduro
Henrique Capriles Radonski
Margin State total
State # % # % # % # % #
Capital District 651,062 51.32 611,359 48.19 6,202 0.49 39,703 3.13 1,268,623
Amazonas 38,271 52.45 34,591 47.41 93 0.14 3,680 5.04 72,955
Anzoátegui 383,125 47.32 424,685 52.45 1,775 0.23 −41,560 −5.13 809,585
Apure 142,023 61.76 87,610 38.09 326 0.15 54,413 23.67 229,959
Aragua 512,379 54.05 432,265 45.60 3,249 0.35 80,114 8.45 947,893
Barinas 214,671 52.18 196,138 47.68 531 0.14 18,533 4.50 411,340
Bolívar 351,988 47.87 381,075 51.83 2,084 0.29 −29,087 −3.96 735,147
Carabobo 610,625 50.51 595,241 49.24 2,969 0.25 15,384 1.27 1,208,635
Cojedes 108,018 61.16 68,264 38.65 318 0.19 39,754 22.51 176,600
Delta Amacuro 51,207 61.63 31,700 38.15 180 0.22 19,507 23.48 83,087
Falcón 266,239 53.03 234,747 46.76 1,033 0.22 31,492 6.27 502,019
Guárico 230,632 59.28 157,766 40.55 598 0.17 72,866 18.73 388,996
Lara 470,203 47.71 512,604 52.02 2,541 0.27 −42,401 −4.31 985,348
Mérida 202,866 42.88 269,383 56.94 791 0.18 −66,517 −14.06 473,040
Miranda 737,126 47.29 815,128 52.30 6,252 0.41 −78,002 −5.01 1,558,506
Monagas 262,547 55.46 209,833 44.33 947 0.21 52,714 11.13 473,327
Nueva Esparta 125,143 46.90 141,236 52.94 395 0.16 −16,093 −6.04 266,774
Portuguesa 303,982 65.45 159,085 34.25 1355 0.30 144,897 31.20 464,422
Sucre 269,494 57.48 198,706 42.38 619 0.14 70,788 15.10 468,619
Táchira 235,303 36.97 400,121 62.87 906 0.19 −164,818 −25.90 636,330
Trujillo 233,892 59.78 156,449 39.99 852 0.23 77,443 20.45 391,193
Vargas 118,752 57.08 88,392 42.49 882 0.43 30,360 14.59 208,026
Yaracuy 184,337 56.53 140,997 43.23 753 0.24 43,240 13.30 326,087
Zulia 878,483 47.68 960,383 52.13 3,278 0.19 −81,900 −4.45 1,842,144
Foreign 4,509 7.43 56,090 92.47 53 0.09 −51,581 −87.04 60,652
Inhospitable 702 83.97 132 15.78 2 0.23 574 68.19 836
Totals: 7,587,579 50.61 7,363,980 49.12 38,984 0.27 223,599 1.49 14,990,543

Source: National Electoral Council

Close statesEdit

Red font color denotes states won by President Maduro; blue denotes those won by Governor Capriles.

States/districts where the margin of victory was under 5%:

  1. Carabobo 1.27%
  2. Capital District 3.13%
  3. Bolívar 3.96%
  4. Lara 4.31%
  5. Zulia 4.45%
  6. Barinas 4.50%

States where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10%:

  1. Miranda 5.01%
  2. Amazonas 5.04%
  3. Anzoátegi 5.13%
  4. Nueva Esparta 6.04%
  5. Falcón 6.27%
  6. Aragua 8.45%


Maduro's narrow defeat of Capriles created uncertainty behind the chavista movement on whether the Bolivarian revolution could continue without Chávez.[29] Due to the PSUV's loss of popularity, the Bolivarian government increased political polarization and began drafting laws to make mechanisms of legal repression against the opposition to maintain power.[29] The Maduro government then prepared the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela and colectivos to participate in intimidation tactics to prevent dissent.[29]


After the election results were announced, car horns blared and fireworks were lit by chavistas as celebrations took place in downtown Caracas.[11]

In contrast, opposition supporters protested by banging pots and pans in the streets. After Capriles' call for the electoral commission not to officially proclaim Maduro the winner, National Guard troops and students clashed in Altamira Square. The troops used tear gas and plastic bullets to disperse the students who were protesting the official results, while the students hurled chunks of concrete and stones back at the troops on a highway in Caracas[45]

Venezuelan authorities greatly repressed demonstrations throughout the country, with President Maduro justifying the use of force by stating that he was facing a coup.[29] At least 7 deaths, 61 injuries[46] and hundreds of arrests were reported following the protests.[29] Attorney-General Luisa Ortega Diaz said that the violence included the burning of several medical clinics, offices of the national telephone company, grocery stores and other businesses.[47] Following the crackdown by the Bolivarian National Guard, the government then congratulated guardsmen for its actions against demonstrators.[29]

National Assembly brawlsEdit

Opposition legislators still did not want recognize Nicolas Maduro as the elected president. On 15 April 2013, President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello announced that he would not allow opposition legislators to speak on the floor of the National Assembly until they recognize Nicolas Maduro as president.[29] A fight broke out within the Assembly and two opposition lawmakers were injured, including William Davila, who had head injuries which resulted in sixteen stitches.[29] Elvis Amoroso [es] of the pro-Maduro PSUV applauded the injuries of opposition deputies stating "well done what they gave him".[29]

Another brawl occurred on 30 April 2013.[29] In response, opposition legislators lifted a Golpe al Parlamento (Coup in the Parliament) banner because they were still prohibited from speaking.[48] Violence later broke out, and legislators from both sides were injured.[49][50] Ten opposition deputies were injured[29] including María Corina Machado, who sustained several fractures to the nose[51] and Julio Borges, who suffered head injuries.[52][53] PSUV deputy and Minister of Prisons Iris Varela stated about the opposition that "se merecían los coñazos" ("they deserved those (violent) strikes").[29]

The Human Rights Foundation, condemned the assault, with HRF president Thor Halvorssen Mendoza claiming that "the PSUV approved of the attacks against opposition deputies at the National Assembly".[54]

Audit demandsEdit

The electoral commission declared that the results of the election were "irreversible"[44] after the planned post-election audit of a random selection of 54% of votes turned up no problems when comparing the electronic vote with the paper ballot totals.[2] Nevertheless, Capriles refused to concede defeat and raised accusations of fraud, demanding an audit of the remaining 46% of the votes.[55] Reuters on 18 April said that "[Capriles] has so far publicly presented little in the way of smoking-gun evidence to show the vote was stolen, though his campaign alleges more than 3,000 irregularities from armed thugs in polling stations to mismatches on tally sheets."[56] Following a telephone conversation between Capriles and Maduro, the latter publicly promised he would permit an additional audit to be conducted on the 46% of votes not already audited. Maduro also claimed that Capriles proposed a "pact," which he rejected.[11]

On 19 April the CNE agreed to audit the remaining 46% of votes which had not already been audited.[2] This was initially accepted by Capriles, who said he believed this second audit would vindicate his fraud claims.[57] Capriles later rejected the audit, after his demands that the audit include the electoral registry as well as the voting records themselves - with detailed examination of voters' signature and fingerprint records - was rejected by the CNE as "impossible".[58][59][60] A Capriles spokesman said "We are asking for complete access to the electoral registry, not only to count how many people voted but also to audit all of the details, to audit the people that voted to see if there are dead people who voted, or foreigners, or duplicates, and to see if there are fake fingerprints..."[58] He also demanded the CNE validate the uniqueness of every fingerprint, by comparing it to every other in its system, and validate every signature. The CNE said that the electoral registry had already been checked before the elections, with the checks signed off by the opposition - and that the validation exercise demanded would take five years, given the hours needed to verify each of 15 million signatures and fingerprints.[58][61] Capriles said that without an audit of the electoral registry, an audit of the votes was "a joke".[3] The CNE's audit of the remaining 46% of votes is to be completed between 6 May and 4 June.[3][62][63]

Capriles appealed to the Venezuelan Supreme Court on 2 May 2013[48] that denied the appeal on 7 August 2013.[6]


  1. ^ Venezuela announces post-Chavez election date BBC, 9 March 2013
  2. ^ a b c d "Venezuela election vote to be audited". BBC. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Venezuela to audit votes without opposition conditions". BBC. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  4. ^ "Venezuela audit confirms Nicolas Maduro electoral victory". BBC News. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Nicolas Maduro sworn in as new Venezuelan president". BBC News. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Venezuela top court rejects Capriles' election appeal". BBC News. 7 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  7. ^ Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is dead, according to country's vice president AP, 5 March 2013
  8. ^ Venezuela: Chavez very delicate with new infection Cortez Journal, 4 March 2013
  9. ^ Consejo Nacional Electoral Manual Operativo para Miembros, Secretaria o Secretario de Mesa Electoral Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 28 November 2006 (in Spanish)
  10. ^ Venezuela's foreign minister says VP Maduro is interim president Fox News, 5 March 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Chavez heir Maduro takes narrow win in Venezuela". CBC News. Associated Press. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  12. ^ Venezuela opposition agrees Capriles to run for presidency-sources Reuters, 6 March 2013
  13. ^ Venezuela's Capriles to run for president Al Jazeera English, 10 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Reina Sequera presentó su postulación a la Presidencia de la República". Consejo Nacional Electoral. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  15. ^ "María Bolívar será candidata para las elecciones presidenciales del 14-A". Noticias24. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  16. ^ CNE recibe primera postulación para elección presidencial
  17. ^ "Ocho candidatos y candidatas se presentaron ante el CNE". 11 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  18. ^ Venezuela polls overshadowed by Chavez Al Jazeera English, 9 April 2013.
  19. ^, 8 April 2013, Insults and Promises in Venezuelan Presidential Campaign as Vote Draws Near
  20. ^ a b, 8 April 2013, Venezuela’s Snap Presidential Election: A Campaign without Issues?
  21. ^ Starka känslor i Venezuelas valkampanj Sveriges Radio, 11 April 2013.
  22. ^, 9 April 2013, Capriles Attacks Venezuelan Electoral Council, Refuses to Sign Document
  23. ^ "", 9 April 2013, Venezuela Government Releases Evidence that Opposition is Planning to Recognise Election Results
  24. ^ Counting begins in vital Venezuela vote - Americas - Al Jazeera English
  25. ^ Venezuela claims to foil 'election plot' - Americas - Al Jazeera English
  26. ^ Neuman, William (14 April 2013). "Venezuela Gives Chávez Protégé Narrow Victory". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  27. ^ Shoichet, Catherine E. "Venezuelan opposition candidate demands recount". Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  28. ^ López Maya, Margarita (2016). El ocaso del chavismo: Venezuela 2005-2015. pp. 346–348. ISBN 9788417014254.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m López Maya, Margarita (2016). El ocaso del chavismo: Venezuela 2005-2015. pp. 362–366. ISBN 9788417014254.
  30. ^ Neuman, William. "Venezuela Gives Chávez Protégé Narrow Victory". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Poll: Venezuela's VP Maduro Would Win Vote If Chavez Goes". newsmaxworld. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  32. ^ (in Spanish) "Encuesta Datanálisis & Barclays: Maduro aventaja a Capriles en 14,4 puntos". Noticias 24. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  33. ^ (in Spanish) "Hinterlaces: Maduro supera a Capriles Radonski por 18 puntos". VTV. 19 March 2013. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  34. ^ (in Spanish) "Noticias24 Confidenciales: 53,8% votaría por Maduro y 31,6% por Capriles el 14-A, según Ivad". Noticias24. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  35. ^ a b (in Spanish) "Noticias24 "Maduro ganaría con 61% de los votos si las elecciones fueran este domingo", según Hinterlaces". Noticias24. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  36. ^ (in Spanish) "telesurTV: Encuesta da como ganador a Nicolás Maduro con 53,8% en comicios del 14 de abril". Noticias24. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  37. ^ (in Spanish) "Noticias24: GIS XXI: si las elecciones fuesen este domingo 55,3% votaría por Maduro y 44,7% por Capriles". Noticias24. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  38. ^ (in Spanish) "Prensa Latina: Encuesta ratifica ventaja de Maduro con miras a comicios venezolanos". Prensa Latina. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  39. ^ "Poll: Capriles aventaja en 5 puntos a Nicolás Maduro, según una encuestadora argentina". abc. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  40. ^ "Exclusivo: encuesta revela que es ínfima la ventaja de Maduro sobre Capriles". 9 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  41. ^ "Rangel: Maduro supera a Capriles en todas las encuestas". AVN. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  42. ^ "Capriles aventaja a Maduro en intención de votos, según Datamática". miamidiario. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  43. ^ (in Spanish) "Maduro sigue aventajando a Capriles". Noticias 24. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  44. ^ a b "Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuela". BBC News. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  45. ^ Al Jazeera, 16 April 2013, Students clash with police in Venezuela
  46. ^ Vivian Sequera; Fabiola Sanchez (16 April 2013). "CHAVEZ HEIR CHARGES US IS BEHIND UNREST OVER VOTE US IS BEHIND UNREST OVER VOTE". Associated Press. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
  47. ^ Mogollon, Mery; Kraul, Chris Kraul. "7 killed in Venezuela postelection violence". Los Angeles Times. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2013
  48. ^ a b "Venezuela opposition challenges Maduro's win in court". Reuters. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  49. ^, 1 May 2013, Violence Erupts in Venezuela’s National Assembly
  50. ^ Lawmakers report brawl in Venezuelan National Assembly CNN May 1, 2013
  51. ^ (in Spanish) El Universal, 2 May 2013, María Corina Machado será operada de cuatro fracturas
  52. ^ Christopher Toothaker, Associated Press, Miami Herald, 2 May 2013, Venezuela opposition wants probe of violence
  53. ^ (in Spanish) "William Dávila y Julio Borges fueron agredidos en la AN: "Sin mediar palabras nos golpearon"". Noticias 24. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  54. ^ "Venezuela: HRF Calls for a Peaceful Solution to Post-Electoral Crisis and Condemns Announced Prosecution of Opposition Leaders; Asks OAS to Promote Dialogue". Human Rights Foundation. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  55. ^ "Venezuela's Capriles refuses to accept Maduro victory until election audit". Russia Today. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  56. ^ Reuters, 18 April 2013, Analysis: Venezuela's Capriles faces tough battle to challenge election
  57. ^ "Venezuela to audit remaining electronic votes". Al Jazeera English. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  58. ^ a b c, 25 April 2013, Venezuelan Government Accuses Capriles of Making "Impossible" Demands
  59. ^ James Bosworth, 26 April 2013, Venezuela's opposition asks election audit to include fingerprint verification
  60. ^ The Guardian, 26 April 2013, Venezuelan opposition leader rejects election audit plan
  61. ^, 28 April 2013, Venezuela’s Electoral Council Says Capriles Lacks Proof of Fraud
  62. ^ (in Spanish) CNE, 27 April 2013, Parámetros para la Verificación Ciudadana Fase II
  63. ^ CEPR, 30 April 2013, Media Fails to Inform Public about Shifting Opposition Demands in Post-Election Venezuela

External linksEdit