Venezuelan Government Should Support Call for Recount | Freedom House

Venezuelan Government Should Support Call for Recount

Washington

April 15, 2013

In response to Venezuela’s tightly contested presidential race yesterday, Freedom House urges the National Electoral Council of Venezuela to conduct an immediate and exhaustive recount of 100 percent of the votes in an open, transparent and verifiable way.

“Given the tense and polarized environment right now, it is premature for Nicolas Maduro to declare victory with such a razor-thin margin,” said Freedom House president, David J. Kramer. “The international community should withhold recognizing the results and instead support and monitor a recount to verify the votes.  It should also call on the Maduro administration to delay the swear-in ceremony until there are no doubts about who won.”

Shortly before midnight on April 15, after almost three hours of vote tabulation, the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, announced a “definitive victory” for the pro-government candidate, Nicolas Maduro, with a historically slim margin of 1.59 percent. The electoral council received thousands of complaints from citizens before and during Election Day, most of which went unresolved. In response to the controversial announcement, the candidate of the Unity Roundtable, Henrique Capriles, called on the government to undertake a recount of 100 percent of the votes before accepting the results. One of the five directors of the electoral council also called for a recount.

“The recount must take place immediately and be carried out in a transparent and open manner, allowing impartial observers to verify the process,” continued Kramer. “Maduro would seriously compromise the legitimacy of his government without a recount, which in turn would affect the stability of a country now divided in two.”

Venezuelans reported more than 3,000 electoral abuses on Election Day, including pro-government officials spreading propaganda at precincts and forcibly escorting voters to polling stations. Although military personnel were visible throughout Election Day, only 20 people were arrested for violations of electoral law. The National Electoral Council rejected claims of abuse well before the election, including the government’s vast use of administrative resources for campaign purposes: government buildings were draped with pro-Maduro campaign banners; campaign materials were openly distributed to public sector employees; and state employees reported being forced to attend pro-government rallies.

Nicolas Maduro offered a victory speech minutes after the electoral council’s announcement. The presidents of Ecuador and Argentina were quick to congratulate Maduro despite the disputed results, and President José Mujica will attend the inauguration in a dual-hatted capacity as president of Uruguay and of Mercosur. Meanwhile the United States, Spain, France and other governments, as well as civil society organizations, have supported the recount.

Venezuela was rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012 and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.

To learn more about Venezuela, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: Venezuela

Freedom of the Press 2012: Venezuela

Freedom on the Net 2012: Venezuela

Blog: Modern Election Rigging in Ukraine and Venezuela

Statement: Freedom House Urges Constitutional Transition of Power in Venezuela

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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