Venezuelans will vote April 14 to choose a successor to Hugo Chavez, the elections commission announced today as increasingly strident political rhetoric begins to roil this polarized country. The constitution mandated the election be held within 30 days of Chavez's March 5 death, but the date picked falls outside that period. Critics of the socialist government already complained that officials violated the constitution by swearing in Vice President Nicolas Maduro as acting leader last night.
Some people have speculated Venezuela will not be ready to organize the vote in time, but elections council chief Tibisay Lucena said the country's electronic voting system was fully prepared. Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, coordinator of the opposition coalition, immediately followed the election announcement by offering his bloc's presidential candidacy to Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state who lost to Chavez in October. A Capriles adviser said the governor would announce his decision tomorrow. Capriles lost to Chavez in an October election.