Nicolas Maduro wins Venezuelan election by a hair

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
April 15, 2013

 Maduro ekes out a win during Venezuela’s weekend election, Bahrain’s Shi’ites use the Grand Prix to protest against government, and North Korea’s celebration is surprisingly mellow. Today is Monday, April 15, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

Nicolas Maduro greets supporters as he leaves after voting for the successor to the late President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, April 14, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Maduro slinks into power. Hugo Chavez’s chosen heir, Nicolas Maduro, is Venezuela’s new president elect, winning Sunday’s election by a much slimmer margin than analysts predicted:

The sympathy effect for Maduro from Chavez’s death was clearly wearing off. And Capriles’ message on the campaign – slamming his rival as an incompetent and poor copy of Chavez unable to fix the nation’s myriad problems – had hit home. Maduro was unable to match his former boss’s charisma and electrifying speeches, but nevertheless benefited from a well-oiled party machine and poor Venezuelans’ fears that the opposition might abolish Chavez’s slum development projects.

Maduro’s cabinet is filled with members of Chavez’s inner circle. The newly elected leader agreed to the recount demanded by opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who cited a long list of irregularities that he says threw the election. Venezeula’s government said Maduro will be formally pronounced the winner on Monday afternoon.

Shi’ites to rally at Bahrain Grand Prix. Many Bahraini Shi’ites joined to protest the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix, which brings money and positive global attention to a regime they do not trust:

The Shi’ite majority complain of discrimination in jobs and government while their loyalty in turn is questioned by members of Bahrain’s Sunni ruling family, bound by historical and marriage ties to neighboring Saudi Arabia. For the most part, the opposition feels the West and friendly Sunni-ruled Arab states are ignoring their plight, as more horrific headlines from the civil war in Syria and Egypt’s major economic problems dominate media coverage.

The Grand Prix was cancelled in 2011 after dozens were killed in a pro-democracy protest. Despite weekly talks that started in February between the Sunni Bahraini government and opposition leaders, known as the “national dialogue,” clashes break out daily in the volatile region.

Kim Il-sung’s birthday is a floral affair. Monday’s national celebration of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung was a peaceful occasion, with no further threat made against the United States or South Korea:

Many Pyongyang watchers has expected a big military parade to showcase North Korea’s armed forces on the “Day of the Sun”, the date the North’s founder Kim Il-Sung was born. But on Monday, the 101st anniversary of Kim’s birth was marked in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, with a festival of flowers named after Kim.

Some analysts say that North Korea ceased its threats in response to the United States’ expressed desire to enter into dialogue with Pyongyang. Although the U.S. has long set denuclearization as a prerequisite of any conversation with the North, over the weekend U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to suggest that the U.S. would be willing to abandon this standard to speak with the North, with China serving as an intermediary.

Nota bene: Saudi Arabian Prince AlWaleed bin Talal is making the economic case for Saudi women drivers.

Standouts:

BFF - Dennis Rodman will visit his new friend Kim Jung-un in North Korea this summer. (The Atlantic Wire)

Urgency required - Reuters columnist Hugo Dixon explains why Italy could benefit from some market pressure. (Reuters)

Desperately seeking “a wife” - In China,  roughly 80 percent of LGBT citizens say they seek opposite gender spouses to please their parents and protect their careers. (The Guardian)

Cat hogs - India’s Supreme Court ruled that the state of Gujarat must share some of its endangered Asiatic lions with a neighboring state. (BBC)

Dangerously tight - French officials say a notorious gangster was able to escape prison due to overcrowding. (CNN)

From the File: 

  • Tweeting Turkish pianist given suspended sentence for blasphemy
  • Munich court delays neo-Nazi trial after access row
  • Iran’s Ahmadinejad due to visit uranium-producing Niger
  • Afghan opium cultivation to rise in 2013: U.N. report
  • Bombs kill dozens across Iraq before local poll
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