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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Former El Salvador President to Await Graft Trial in Jail, Not at Home

Francisco Flores, who had been on the run until early Sept. before turning himself in, accused of misappropriating $15M in 2001 earthquake relief donations
More

US Won't Impede Venezuela's UN Security Council Bid

Washington is clearly unhappy, however, with idea of country joining the Council, which has the task of overseeing international peace and security
More

Video Dehydration Is Top Killer of Southern Arizona's Migrants

US Border Patrol's search and rescue unit launches 'blue blinking light of life program' - a series of poles strategically placed throughout desert that emit high-intensity blue light
More

US Steps Up Pressure on Guatemala Over Labor Rights

Trade representative says Obama administration will push ahead with legal action under free trade agreement to make country meet international standards
More

Video US Attempts Crackdown on Trafficking Along Southern Border

Nogales, Arizona, notoriously known as 'tunnel city,' used by traffickers to smuggle humans, narcotics into US and Border Patrol responds with new technologies
More

Video Arizona Non-Profit Helps Keep Dehydrated Migrants Alive

The Sonoran Desert, a common crossing point for illegal immigrants, is one of North America's hottest places
More