The stakes are high as Venezuela votes today, in
what is being seen as a key test of public support for Hugo Chavez’s self-styled socialist revolution.
Many of his candidates are facing a tough challenge in state and municipal elections.
In the last regional vote four years ago, handpicked loyalists of the longtime leftist leader won in all but two states. But this time round, the larger-than-life president’s endorsement may not be enough to put some of his allies in office.
It won’t be through lack of trying. Chavez has
campaigned country-wide, telling supporters a vote for his party hopefuls is a vote for their popular president.
That perception is echoed by political analyst Teodoro Petkoff.
“The votes are for Chavez,” he said.
“They admit it and Chavez knows it. That is why he is campaigning like this. Chavez is a candidate for 23 governors’ posts.”
But Venezuela’s fragmented opposition has been energised. Last year, the president lost his aura of electoral invincibility when he failed to win a referendum on major constitutional reforms.