Hugo Chávez wins presidential race for a fourth term

Venezuelan election officials say President Hugo Chávez has won re-election, taking more than 54 percent of the votes in Sunday’s polling.

His opponent, Henrique Capriles, congratulated Chavez late Sunday for the victory.

The election council says 81 percent of the nearly 19 million registered voters went to the polls, with Chavez getting more than 7.4 million votes, beating Capriles by more than 1.2 million votes.

Fireworks erupted in downtown Caracas outside the presidential palace where supporters of the president were celebrating after the announcement was made.

Analysts say Sunday’s vote was the toughest election leftist President Chavez had faced after nearly 14 years in power.
While Chavez’s base remains strong among the country’s poor, Capriles electrified the opposition.

The 40-year-old lawyer conducted a national door-to-door campaign, criticizing the president on Venezuela’s power outages, food shortages and high murder rate.

A persistent question in the race was the president’s health. Chavez says he has fully recovered from the cancer that was first discovered more than a year ago.

The exact nature of his cancer has never been revealed.

By winning his fourth term, the 57-year-old Mr. Chavez could serve until 2019, which would mark his 20th anniversary as Venezuela’s president.

Chavez is an outspoken critic of the United States and supports anti-U.S. governments around the world. He has spent billions of dollars of Venezuela’s oil money on social programs.

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