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Post-election disputes and Venezuelan law

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Tomas Bravo/Reuters

(Read caption) Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles hit pots and pans while taking part in a demonstration asking for a recount of the votes in Sunday's election in Caracas, April 17.

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 David Smilde is the moderator of WOLA's blog: Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. The views expressed are the author's own.

On April 14, Venezuela’s voters shocked the world by electing Nicolás Maduro to the presidency with a narrow margin-just weeks after he enjoyed a fifteen point lead in the polls. This is not the first time that Venezuelans have upended expectations. On August 15, 2004, they reaffirmed support for then-president Hugo Chávez in a recall referendum that most people were confident Chávez would lose. On December 2, 2007, they turned back Chávez’s attempt to change the constitution, less than a year after they reelected him with an overwhelming majority. 

Universal and anonymous suffrage gives citizens a unique ability to change the course of history, a course normally determined by people in power. Venezuelans have done it time and again, a fact that Venezuela’s leaders would do well to remember as they navigate the current political crisis.

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