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Success for Chavez's Socialists in Venezuela state polls
From: BBC          Published On: December 17, 2012, 00:21 GMT
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Success for Chavez's Socialists in Venezuela state polls

Hugo Chavez

The Socialist Party of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has increased the number of governorships it holds, early results from state elections show.

The socialists won in 20 of the country's 23 states, officials said.

However the opposition coalition held on to two key governorships - including that of Miranda, one of Venezuela's most populous states.

The poll took place amid uncertainty over the health of Mr Chavez, who is is in Cuba recovering from cancer surgery.

Members of the Socialist Party had urged voters to go to the polls on Sunday in a show of solidarity with the president.

Aides said Mr Chavez had been watching the election closely and had "resumed giving instructions and governing".

Chosen successor

The National Election Council said the Socialist Party had won 19 governorships, indicating that Mr Chavez's supporters took back at least three governorships of the seven the opposition had held.

The opposition retained Miranda and Lara states, the council added. It said races in Amazonas and Bolivar states were not yet decided.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles won re-election as governor of Miranda state by defeating former Vice-President Elias Jaua,

Mr Capriles was defeated by Mr Chavez in October's presidential election, when he led a coalition of opposition parties.

Mr Chavez is due to be sworn in on 10 January for a fourth term in office.

Earlier this month, President Chavez said the cancer he hoped had been cured had in fact returned.

He underwent cancer surgery in Cuba on Tuesday - his fourth such operation since last year.

If his health fails in the first four years of his term, the Constitution states that a new election needs to be called in 30 days.

Mr Chavez has appointed Vice-President Nicolas Maduro as his preferred successor.

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