AP reports from Caracas:
Venezuelans chose governors and state lawmakers on Sunday in elections seen as a key test of whether President Hugo Chavez’s movement can endure if the socialist leader leaves the political stage.
The vote was the first time in Chavez’s nearly 14-year-old presidency that he has been unable to actively campaign. He hasn’t spoken publicly since undergoing cancer surgery on Tuesday in Cuba.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro urged supporters on Sunday to vote for Chavez’s allies, while opponents called his remarks a blatant violation of electoral law.
Speaking at a news conference, Maduro implored voters: “Let’s not fail Chavez.” He addressed those who hadn’t cast ballots yet, saying “let’s not make a bad impression with our commander Chavez.”
Opposition leader Ramon Guillermo Aveledo said his remarks violated a prohibition on campaigning on election day, and called for the National Electoral Council to take action. Vicente Diaz, a member of the council, called for Maduro’s news conference to be halted. It ended shortly afterward, and Maduro left without addressing the issue.