A Timeline of Venezuelan Opposition Reactions to the Recent Elections

From the presidential elections in October 2012 to the special presidential election in April, CEPR takes a look at the actions of Venezuela's opposition. 


October 5, 2012

Henrique Capriles’ campaign coordinator Leopoldo López is quoted in the press saying, “We have been and will continue to be respectful of the established processes,” ahead of the October 7 presidential elections.

October 7, 2012

Capriles assures voters that their vote is secret.  His election campaign tweets, “Remember that the vote is secret, only you and God will know who you voted for! Vote without fear” and similar messages during election day.

Ignacio Avalos, director of the independent Venezuelan Election Observatory is quoted in the press saying “The government and the opposition both agree that the electoral system is good in general,” and, “Opposition experts concluded that you cannot cheat the system.”

When going to vote, Capriles tells reporters “if I had any doubt whatsoever of the transparency of this process I wouldn’t be here.”

Following the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) announcement that President Hugo Chávez has won re-election, Capriles promptly concedes defeat, accepting the electoral results even though other members of the opposition reject the results, citing alleged fraud and “irregularities.”

March 5, 2013

President Chávez dies.

March 8, 2013

The MUD boycotts the swearing-in ceremony of Vice President Nicolás Maduro as interim president, and most of the opposition does not attend.

March 9, 2013

The CNE announces that elections for a new president will take place April 14.

March 25, 2013

Opposition legislators Ricardo Sánchez, Carlos Vargas, and Andrés Avelino announce they are breaking with Capriles’ campaign, warning of a MUD plan to reject the election results, and saying the Capriles campaign was “encouraging a climate of instability and violence, where the terrible and painful consequence …intensifies the perverse division between Venezuelans.” They also referred to some opposition members’ acceptance of illegal campaign funds.

April 4, 2013

Members of Capriles’ campaign hold a press conference to say that a liaison officer for the PSUV to the CNE has the electronic key for the nation’s voting machines, which allows an operator to change the time/date or other settings.  The CNE quickly changes the access code to be sure that only non-partisan electoral officials have access, and the Capriles campaign admits that this could not have been used to change votes anyway.

The MUD signs off on an audit of the voting machines with no objections.

April 8, 2013

In the days leading up to the election, Capriles refuses to sign-on to an accord with the CNE as other candidates do.  The accord certifies that they will respect the outcome of the elections.  Instead, he releases a document in which he makes a promise to the country that he will respect “the will of the people.”

April 12, 2013

In a meeting with international election monitors, spokespersons from the Capriles campaign are vague regarding whether they will accept the official results as announced by the CNE, saying they will honor the “will of the people.” They also say the monitors’ “presence amongst us is very important to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.”

April 13, 2013

In a press conference, Capriles encourages his supporters to vote, telling them that “the vote is secret.”

April 14, 2013

Elections proceed with few incidents, according to international monitors, and opposition representatives at voting centers in several states report no major complaints or irregularities.

As soon as polls have closed, opposition leaders proclaim that Capriles has won. MUD Executive Secretary and Capriles campaign coordinator Ramon Guillermo Aveledo suggests at a press conference that the government is trying to steal the election for Maduro. According to AP, Capriles tweets: “We alert the country and the world of the intent to change the will of the people!”

At approximately 11:15 pm, the CNE announces that Maduro is the winner with a 1.59 percentage point (234,935 vote) margin of victory.

Capriles says, “we are not going to recognize the results until every vote is counted, one by one.”

In his victory speech, Maduro says he supports a full audit of the votes.

April 15, 2013

The CNE announces Maduro’s victory when the voting trend in his favor is statistically “irreversible.”

The Capriles campaign argues that by opening the voting boxes and counting the paper ballot receipts, their victory and the government’s fraud will be revealed.  Julio Borges, leader of the MUD party, says, “we should go forward on a process not only of auditing all the votes, but also of challenging all the issues we think affected the results.” (Translated here.)

Capriles tweets that “until every vote is counted, Venezuela has an ‘illegitimate president and we denounce that to the world.’” He calls for street protests in response, including a march for Wednesday to the CNE headquarters.  This is later called off by Capriles after Maduro states that he won’t permit the march, citing fears that it will provoke more violence following deadly clashes and attacks on chavistas. Capriles calls for  nightly cacerolazos instead.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says a “100 percent audit” of the results would be “an important, prudent and necessary step to ensure that all Venezuelans have confidence in these results.”

AP notes that before this “The electronic voting system itself was never questioned by the opposition and it has drawn praise from institutions such as the Carter Center as among the most reliable.”

International observers invited by the opposition party, the MUD, criticize the CNE and agree with the Capriles campaign that various audits, which were not agreed to prior to the election, are necessary to declare a winner.

Protests in several cities the night of April 14 and morning of April 15 turn violent, with attacks on medical clinics, PSUV members’ homes, and nine dead, according to the government.

Maduro is officially declared winner of the elections by Tibisay Lucena, representing the CNE, with 99.17 percent of votes counted.  He is presented with the records that certify him as President.

April 16, 2013

State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell says a “full recount would be important, prudent, and necessary…” and the International Crisis Group, an organization with significant funding from the US government, releases a report insisting that  “the validity of the election result [in Venezuela] needs to be clarified.”

April 17, 2013

According to CNN, Venezuela’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Estella Morales, explains that Venezuela’s 1999 Constitution did away with manual recounts in favor of a “system audit,” Morales states that “in Venezuela the electoral system is completely automated. Therefore, a manual count does not exist. Anyone who thought that could really happen has been deceived  (…) The majority of those who are asking for a manual count know it and are clear about it. Elections are not audited ballot by ballot but through the system.”

April 18, 2013

Tibisay Lucena announces audit of the remaining 46 percent of voting receipts as had been demanded by the opposition.  Capriles says in response, “Today the National Electoral Council (CNE) suggested an audit of 12,000 boxes during a span of 30 days, 400 daily; we accept these audits because in those 12,000 boxes is the truth.”

The governments of UNASUR issue a joint declaration congratulating Venezuelans on the elections, and recognizing Maduro as the country’s new president. The statement also supports the CNE’s decision to perform a full audit (100%) of the paper receipts.

April 23, 2013

The opposition begins an international outreach effort with members of Capriles’ campaign traveling to Belgium, France, Germany and Spain.

April 25, 2013

Capriles announces the opposition will boycott the CNE’s audit of voting receipts because the CNE is not also auditing the voting record books (where fingerprints and signatures are entered manually).

April 26, 2013

Capriles says that to be satisfied with the political situation, there might need to be new elections, potentially for the whole country or just sections where there were “irregularities.”

April 30, 2013

A fight erupts in Venezuela’s parliament.

May 9, 2013

In an interview, Capriles says that he won the elections by 400,000 votes without explaining how he arrived at this number.

May 17, 2013

In remarks to the press, CNE Vice President Sandra Oblitas says that, as had been agreed by all parties prior to the election, the CNE will conduct an audit of the electronic fingerprint registry to ensure that there was no repeat voting, but warns that results are unlikely before September. Other CNE officials will reaffirm that the fingerprint registry will be audited in the coming weeks, but these announcements are not covered in the English language press.

May 19, 2013

Capriles says he is considering a campaign for a recall referendum against Nicolás Maduro.

May 29, 2013

Capriles meets with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, and speaks before both houses of congress, asking Colombia to use its power in UNASUR to support his latest demands for an expanded audit.

June 3, 2013

Opposition figure and National Assembly member María Corina Machado is reported to have met with Obama administration officials as well as several members of the U.S. Congress.

Capriles announces he has submitted a document to electoral authorities demanding that the CNE not “tamper” with voting machines or memory sticks used in the elections.

MUD executive secretary Ramón Guillermo Aveledo is reported vowing full participation in upcoming municipal elections (December 8), saying “there, where the citizen votes, that vote cannot be substituted, no one changes that vote.”

June 11, 2013

The full audit finishes and Tibisay Lucena, President of the CNE, announces that an analysis of 100% the paper receipts revealed almost no discrepancies (99.98% matching).

María Corina Machado tweets, “The voting record books (cuadernos de votación) are an essential instrument in the process and proof of fraud is there.”

Capriles reacts to the CNE announcement, calling the audit a “farce” and saying, “you don’t really have to be an IT expert to know that when they compare the vote totals with the electronic tallies, the result is going to be the same.”