Venezuela election: Battle between equals

2013-03-30 07:15
Hugo Chavez (Picture: AFP)

Hugo Chavez (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Hugo!
    The remarkable biography of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela and leader of the Bolivian... Now R163.00
    buy now
Caracas - As Venezuela prepares for its first election without Hugo Chavez in years, the opposition hopes to find a level playing field at last. And the government can't help but cling to his legacy.

Neither of the candidates in the 14 April election can truly compare to the populist, crowd-wooing people's tribune that was Chavez, who was first elected in 1998 and died of cancer 5 March.

With his booming voice and nearly constant tweets, speeches and diatribes against what he saw as US imperialism, he dominated - and some would say polarised - Venezuela like few others could.

Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, head of the opposition coordination group, said his candidate Henrique Capriles, whom Chavez beat in a presidential election last October, "will no longer have as his adversary a living political legend".

Instead he faces acting president Nicolas Maduro, the ruling Socialist Party candidate and Chavez's handpicked heir, a former bus driver who worked his way up in politics. He was vice president when Chavez died at age 58.

"It is a battle between equals. In that sense it is a more conventional situation, like in any democracy," Aveledo, who coordinates the MUD group of opposition parties, said in an interview with AFP.

When Chavez was president, he got involved in every election campaign, no matter how small, even down to the municipal level.

Now he is gone, but his memory is vividly fresh.

And it will overshadow the election so thoroughly that both the government and the opposition reckon that to one extent or another, voters will be casting ballots for or against a man who is dead.

Aveledo accused Maduro of deliberately trying to make this another election about Chavez rather than about the issues that Venezuelans face in their day to day life, which he said Maduro is shunning.

"But Chavez cannot be the focus of this campaign because we are not talking about a government that was, but rather the one that will be," he said.

Capriles, a state governor, is focusing not on Chavez but on Maduro and therefore says things like: "Don't hide, don't put on a disguise, Nicolas. This is not about Chavez, but rather you."

Indeed, as the country goes to the polls for the second time in just five months, these are uncharted waters for both sides.

Since December, when Chavez left for cancer surgery in Cuba and named Maduro as his heir in case he never came back or became incapacitated, the opposition says it has been closely studying the heir apparent.

"Can Nicolas Maduro get as many people out to vote as Chavez did? No one knows. Will we be able to get as many people to turn out without the incentive of defeating Chavez? No one knows that either," Aveledo said.

Polls give Maduro an advantage of more than 10 points.

Maduro is not Chavez

But Aveledo urges caution about the numbers because this is a new game for Venezuela and events are unfolding fast -- from the time of Chavez's death until election a mere 40 days will have gone by.

"Right now there is no way to take a clear and accurate snap shot of voter intentions," he said.

The big question, he said, is this: "How long will it take Chavez supporters to realise something which they know intuitively and which the government already knows, which is that Maduro is not Chavez?"

Aveledo said the government has an unfair big advantage in the campaign, which officially begins 2 April. He said the National Election Council has banned some opposition activities and the tone of the race is nasty.

Maduro is trying project authority and assert himself because he was personally annointed by Chavez, and feels he needs to take an aggressive attitude to be seen as a strong leader, Aveledo said.

In the October elections, Capriles gave Chavez a decent run for his money, winning 44% of the votes, compared to 55% for Chavez.

Still, that loss hurt the opposition badly. In state elections held shortly afterwards pro-Chavez people won in 20 of the 23 states where voting was held.

MUD is a hodgepodge of political parties united by one thing - opposition to Chavez - and otherwise riven by internal differences.

After the state election fiasco it did a lot of soul searching and managed to unite to nominate Capriles as candidate again, despite his earlier loss.

"MUD is like an earthquake-proof building. They sway but don't fall," Aveledo aurged.

He said the coalition's goals are a large turnout among its people and a high level of abstention among those who backed Chavez.

"That is what we want and that is what we are striving for," he said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    henrique capriles  |  hugo chavez  |  nicolas maduro  |  venezuela
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 3 Black 64GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 4G

Retina Display Finally the incredible Retina display technology from the iPhone...

From R7999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be putting too much effort into someone or something. You are doing it out of love and compassion but there is a chance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.