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Venezuela's Ruling Party Sweeps State Elections

Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez create a poster with his image alongside an outline of their country in Caracas, December 14, 2012.

The allies of cancer-stricken Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have won a sweeping victory in the nation's gubernatorial elections. Venezuela's election council says the ruling party won 20 of the 23 states in Sunday's elections.

However, Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate in the recent presidential election won by Mr. Chavez, was able to retain his post as governor of Miranda state. His win positions him as the opposition's most likely candidate-in-waiting if Mr. Chavez's ill health forces him to step aside.

The 53 percent voter turnout for Sunday's elections was considerably lower than the recent presidential election.

President Chavez, who was re-elected in October, has said Vice President Nicolas Maduro would take over if the president is incapacitated. The president has urged his supporters to vote for Maduro if a presidential election is held. The president's departure would trigger an election within 30 days.

Few medical details about the president's cancer have been released. He has had tumors removed from his pelvic region and has had chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The president has never disclosed the type or severity of the cancer.

President Chavez is scheduled to be sworn in for a new six-year term January 10. He has been in office since 1999.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.