News / Americas

High Turnout Predicted for Venezuela's Presidential Election

Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, center, gestures to supporters during his closing campaign rally in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Oct. 4, 2012.
Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, center, gestures to supporters during his closing campaign rally in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Oct. 4, 2012.
Brian Padden
Venezuela's National Electoral Council has ordered an end to all campaign activities ahead of Sunday's presidential election.  While President Hugo Chavez is still ahead in many polls, his opponent, Henrique Capriles, a former state governor, has steadily been gaining ground during the campaign.

President Chavez retains a loyal following among the country's poor, who have propelled him to easy victories in past elections.  Venezuela has the world's biggest proven crude oil deposits, and during his almost 14 years in power,  Chavez has used the country's oil wealth for programs to provide his political base with food subsidies and free housing and to reduce poverty, child mortality and illiteracy.

The 58-year-old leader has had cancer surgeries and chemotherapy beginning in 2011.  Chavez says he is now cancer-free and has been out recently, looking healthy and actively campaigning.

Luis Vicente Leon, the director of a Venezuelan polling firm, says it is not only  Chavez's popularity among the poor but also his manipulation of the electoral process, that give him a huge advantage in this election.  He says Chavez has used government staff as campaign workers, commandeered free media broadcast time on a daily basis, filled the oversight body, the electoral college, with political supporters, and intimidated public sector workers to support him or face retribution.

He says such manipulation is contrary to democracy and obviously will have an impact on the election results.

Chavez's youthful rival, Henrique Capriles, has mounted a formidable campaign.  The 40-year-old Capriles has vowed to unite the country, accusing the Venezuelan leader of being "sick with power" and dividing the country. Capriles has portrayed himself as a more centrist figure, friendly to business but supporting many of the popular social programs instituted by Chavez.  And Capriles has repeatedly criticized the president over the country's regular power outages, food shortages and high murder rate, which has risen to 50 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

David Myers, a professor of political science at Pennsylvania State University, says one major advantage for Capriles is that he has been able to bring together the various parties opposed to Chavez.  He says many in the opposition believe this is their last, best chance to contain Chavez's Bolivaran style of socialism.

“The idea is, you know, if we don't beat him or we can't stake out something that we can hold in this election, the transformation that the Bolivarans are thinking about may go beyond the tipping point where we can change anything," said Myers.

Around 19 million voters are expected to participate in Sunday's election.  Some 140,000 troops have been deployed to prevent violence, and alcohol sales have been banned until Monday.

David Smilde, a sociologist at the University of Georgia, says during this election, there will be no truly independent international observers.  The groups invited to monitor the election, like UNASUR, will be operating under a number of restrictions.

“They don't have autonomy of movement.  They can't go where they decide they want to go.  They do not have independent access to the data.  And they can't make independent proclamations.  So it is not observation. Often time they don't even speak Spanish.  It's what some people have called revolutionary tourism," said Smilde.

Analysts are predicting a high turnout in this closely contested race.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Nazi War Crimes Suspect Dies in Canada

Vladimir Katriuk, 93, had denied allegations that he took part in killings of civilians in Soviet village of Khatyn, now part of Belarus
More

Allies, Ex-players, Fans Abroad Cheer US Move Against FIFA

Soccer devotees flood Twitter with praise, ask why countries with richer traditions in the sport had ignored suspicions of corruption for so long
More

Soccer Great Pele to Join New York Cosmos on Cuban Trip

Goodwill mission will include exhibition match between Cosmos, Cuban national team
More

Researchers: No Foul Play in Death of Chilean Poet Neruda

Chilean government reopened investigation into Neruda's death in January, with new tests designed to look for protein damage caused by poisoning
More

US Senator: Momentum Growing to Lift Sanctions on Cuba

Sen. Tom Udall led a delegation of four Democratic lawmakers to Havana
More

Latin American Soccer Fans Cheer FIFA Corruption Sweep

Latin American fans have long booed officials assumed to be on the take, amid deep public disgust at graft in the game
More