Venezuelan elections: Who is Maduro up against this year?

Venezuelan elections: Who is Maduro up against this year?
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By Marta Rodriguez Martinez
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With a completely different set of opposition candidates, Euronews looks at who Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is up against in Sunday's presidential election.


With the main opposition, the Democratic Unity coalition, boycotting the upcoming elections and the two most popular opposition figures, Leopoldo Lopez and Capriles, both banned from standing this Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won't have many sleepless nights ahead of the vote, but the outcome isn't assured.

Here, Euronews answers the key questions on Maduro's election rivals:

1. Who is Maduro’s opposition this time?

The main opposition to the Chavista president — a coalition of political parties known as the Democratic Unity coalition — has decided to boycott Sunday’s elections, qualifying them as “undemocratic”.

Their position became known in February when the party’s coordinator Angel Oropeza read a statement describing the election as a “show orchestrated by Maduro’s government amidst the agony and suffering of Venezuelans.”

As a result, the opposition’s leader this year is lesser known figure Henri Falcon, the head of the anti-Chavista party Progressive Advance, which was formed in 2012. Right behind Falcon is Javier Bertucci, an evangelical pastor who presented himself as “the light amidst the darkness”.

A third opposition candidate will also be running this year: Reinaldo Quijada entered the race to dethrone Maduro as the candidate for UPP 89, a political party that represents Chavistas who are unhappy with Maduro's government.

2. What are their political agendas?

Henri Falcon

Falcon is an ex-Chavista who’s trying to use the country’s general discontent with Maduro’s government to garner more support.

His agenda’s key points are to use the US dollar instead of the hyperinflated Bolivar to try to stabilise the economy. He's also said he would accept foreign aid into Venezuela, free opposition activists and perhaps work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revamp the economy.

Javier Bertucci

Evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci is seen as the “outsider” candidate in the race. He calls himself an “independent candidate with no political history”.

If he wins, he will lead a conservative government that will not approve laws to legalise gay marriage or abortion in Venezuela.

Reinaldo Quijada

Quijada defends Hugo Chavez' "Bolivarian Revolution" but does not support Maduro’s government. His party Unidad Politica Popular 89 signals a recent rift within the Chavismo movement.

If he wins, Quijada will continue the “revolutionary process” started by Chavez in Venezuela.

3. Do any of the opposition candidates have a real chance of beating Maduro?

It depends on who you ask, but Falcon is the only opposition candidate that has a real chance of dethroning Maduro, experts say.

Venezuelan polling company Datanálisis predicts a tie between Falcon and Maduro. Whereas polling firm Delphos says Maduro will take 43% of the vote and Falcon 24%.

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