Photo: AP Photo/Fernando Llano
Many observers were ready to call the Venezuelan presidential election before the campaigning even got started, due to Huge Chavez’s media control, high approval ratings and populist leadership.However, while Chavez may well be the eventual victor, the election may be considerably closer than many had expected.
Chavez’s opponent, former governor Henrique Capriles, has been steadily increasing his popularity, and as a result, his polling figures. In the capitulation of said phenomena, an August poll from respected polling firm Consultores 21 gave Capriles 48% of the vote — 2 points higher than Chavez — reports the Miami Herald.
Capriles has gained increasing support using the same tactics Chavez first used in 1998 to gain the popular support he now enjoys. Running a grassroots campaign, Capriles has visited 150 small towns and villages and plans to visit another 150 communities before the presidential election on October 7th, according to Bloomberg.
Using vibrant displays of energy and youth, Capriles has jogged through the streets, his supporters running alongside and cheering on their presidential hopeful. These displays of energy, youth, and health, have been in stark contrast to Chavez, who continues to battle back from his fight with cancer.
While Capriles travels the countryside, Chavez continues with regular media broadcasts, caravans, and large rallies in select towns. He has stooped to criticising Capriles, calling him the “loser”, “little bourgeoisie”, and remarking that Capriles’s travels through the countryside were his first time travelling through Venezuela as a tourist. He is also quick to remind people of the “million” towns he has visited in the past. He remains confident he will win, and believes polls depicting the race as a virtual tie are a joke.
His confidence may come back to bite him, though. An earlier poll taken by Consultores 21 in June showed Chavez leading by a mere 0.1%, and it was the same polling agency that correctly predicted the outcome of the September 2010 legislative elections.
In that election, Chavez’s opponents gained 59 seats.
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