July 17, 2012 (TSR) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez enjoys a substantial 15 percent lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in the run-up to the Oct. 7 election, survey results showed Monday.
According to the latest poll by the Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis, among the 1,300 people surveyed between June 14 and 23, 46.1 percent will vote for Chavez, 30.8 percent for Capriles, and the rest were either undecided or undeclared voters.
Datanalisis Director Luis Vicente Leon said it was still too soon to predict what would happen on Oct. 7, but the poll showed the gap between the two front-runners was narrowing from 17 to 15 percentage points.
Leon said the high number of swing voters just three months before the election was due to Chavez’s latest entry into the race. He added winning them over would be key to winning the election.
Most other polling firms also place Chavez in the lead, though with different margins.
Chavez, 57, is still popular after 14 years in power due to his oil-financed welfare spending and his enduring emotional connection with the country’s poor majority.
He assured last week that a June 2011 diagnosis declared him cancer-free, after two operations and heavy medical treatment, during which he was absent from public life.
His main rival, 40-year-old Capriles from the conservative coalition, Justice First Party, promised to end what he called the president’s radical, statist policies and set up a Brazilian-style “modern left” administration, while projecting an image of youth and energy.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday also warned followers that losing his re-election bid in the Oct. 7 presidential race could spark a civil war.
“If the rightwing’s presidential candidate gets into (office), it would put an end to the social programs promoted during 14 years of government, and as a result the country would enter into a civil war,” Chavez said, according to the state-run Venezuelan News Agency (AVN).
AVN cited from an interview the head of state gave to a television station in northeastern Anzoategui state about the upcoming elections and his only rival Henrique Capriles.
In the same interview, Chavez also said that if the recent controversial impeachment that led to a change of government in Paraguay were to occur in Venezuela, it would completely destabilize the country.
“In Paraguay, the overthrowers shut down the state-run channel and threw out the journalists. Here in Venezuela the same would happen, they would throw almost everybody out,” said Chavez, in reference to a win by the rightwing.
According to Chavez, when Capriles was governor of Miranda state, he withdrew official support from the Cuban medical teams that Chavez has promoted around the country to attend to the rural poor.
Chavez, 58, has governed since 1999 and plans to run for a third six-year term to consolidate his socialist policies.
The results of the next Datanalisis survey will be released in September, just a month before Venezuela’s 19 million eligible voters go to the polls.