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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Coast Guard Rescues 33 Cubans at Sea

Because the overloaded boat did not make landfall, those rescued will be returned to Cuba
More

Search Underway at New Site in Mexico Missing Students Case

This week marked one month since the students went missing after clashing with police in mysterious circumstances
More

Public Transport in Latin America, Asia Most Dangerous for Women

Thousands of women and gender experts were questioned to create the listing
More

Kerry Lays Wreath for Slain Canadian Soldier

World has been witness to Canada's strength in face of tragedy, he says
More

Crowds Gather for Funeral of Canadian Soldier Killed in Ottawa

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot dead in last week near Canada's parliament building in attack allegedly carried out by convert to Islam
More

Mexico Makes New Arrests in Student Disappearances

Attorney General says four more gang members from the Guerreros Unidos cartel who 'organized the disappearance' of the teacher trainees are in custody
More