Socialist Party dedicates poll victories to Chavez

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Hugo Chavez’s supporters dedicated their dominant weekend regional election win to the absent Venezuelan president and turned attention back yesterday to his fight to recover from cancer surgery in Cuba.

Helped by sympathy for Mr Chavez, the ruling Socialist Party swept the board in Sunday’s vote, winning 20 out of 23 state governorships. “That was the people’s present for their commander, painting the country red,” said the party’s national election co-ordinator, Jorge Rodriguez.

Government candidates slashed the opposition’s control of seven states to just three – but there was some good news for the opposition in Miranda, where its standard-bearer, Henrique Capriles, held his seat.

In office since 1999, Mr Chavez is due to start a new term on 10 January after beating Mr Capriles at October’s presidential vote.