It is an election he hopes will earn him six more years in office. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has cast his ballot in a presidential poll he is widely tipped to win. A fervent critic of the US Bush administration, he is keen to bolster his campaign for a left-wing alliance in Latin America.
Aiming to stop him is challenger Manuel Rosales. He hopes to roll back Chavez policies he says are slowing edging Venezuela towards authoritarian rule. As he voted, Rosales said that this was one of the most important elections in the country’s history.
With hundreds of international observers present, Hugo Chavez has encouraged Venezuelans to have full confidence in the transparency of the electoral system. He has claimed the opposition will look for an excuse to cry fraud.
While saying voting was proceeding normally, Rosales appealed to authorities to fix some voting machines he said were printing out blank ballots when voters selected his name.