Venezuelan president hints he will not accept defeat in mid-term election
Opinion polls show populist left-wing movement set to lose control of national assembly
Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro greets supporters after a meeting in the Petare district of Caracas. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela’s president has hinted that he will not accept the result of crucial mid-term elections being held on Sunday should his Chavista movement loses its majority in congress.
Speaking to candidates from his ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, Nicolás Maduro warned: “I know we are going to triumph. But if something negative comes to pass I will go to the street to fight with the people, as I have always done, and the revolution will enter another stage.”
Last month an opposition leader was shot dead at an election rally in the worst incident in a campaign of intimidation the United Democratic Table, or MUD, alliance says is being waged against it.
Mr Maduro said the politician was linked to organised crime and killed as part of a criminal dispute and that his opponents were now seeking to use his death to smear him.
Though pollsters have traditionally underestimated electoral support for Chavismo, they are currently predicting that the MUD could beat the PSUV by two to one, well beyond any margin of error.
Many voters are also angry at rampant corruption and the inability of the government to contain an explosion in violent crime which makes Venezuela one of the most dangerous societies on earth. A lacklustre public speaker, Mr Maduro also suffers from comparisons to his charismatic predecessor Chávez whom he succeeded as president following the latter’s death from cancer in 2013.
But just as the likelihood of the government losing its majority in congress increases, the opposition coalition is showing signs of splintering between moderates and more radical anti-Chavista groups.