The most important number to come out of April’s disputed Venezuelan election is not Nicolás Maduro’s margin of victory (1.5 or 1.8 percent, depending on who you ask). Forget, too, the3,200 electoral irregularities alleged by opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
The figure that should be weighing on everyone is 645,000—the number of voters, roughly, who switched sides, giving their vote to Hugo Chávez in October 2012 and then choosing Capriles in April instead of Maduro, Chávez’s chosen political heir.
And to be clear: That number, 645,000, comes not from Capriles, or from the State Department or the European Union, but from Venezuela’s own National Electoral Council (CNE), which resolutely proclaimed Maduro the winner over Capriles. In other words, Venezuela’s own Chavista-controlled and highly partisan electoral board acknowledges the Socialist Party coalition lost more than a half million votes in a mere six months.
Why the big switch?