Polling stations have opened in Venezuela, but queues had already started to form outside hours before voting began. There is little sign of the voter fatigue some had predicted, as the last presidential poll was in October, when the late Hugo Chavez won his fourth term with a record 80 percent turnout.
His anointed successor and longtime foreign minister Nicolas Maduro is the runaway favourite, holding a double-digit lead in most opinion polls, although that gap has narrowed in recent days.
The opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has done his best to shake off his “rich kid” image, and is proposing a Brazil-style economic model to counter what he says are the government’s failed policies of nationalisation and subsidies for its supporters.
Early-morning fireworks announced the polls were open. There may be more if the result is close.