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Updated Jun 10, 2024, 2:44pm EDT
South America
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Semafor Signals

Venezuela opposition candidate has 50% lead over Maduro: Poll

Insights from Americas Quarterly, Bloomberg, El País, and Efecto Cocuyo

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Venezuelan opposition candidate Edmundo González.
Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Reuters
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The News

Venezuela’s opposition candidate, Edmundo González Urrutia, is leading President Nicolás Maduro in the polls by about 50% ahead of the country’s upcoming national election, which is supposed to take place on July 28.

González began the campaign cycle as a political unknown — he was put forward after the former opposition leader was barred from running — and has yet to be barred himself, although Maduro could still block his candidacy and the opposition before the election is due to take place.

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The opposition faces an uphill battle

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Sources:  
Bloomberg, Voz de América

It is unclear, González told Bloomberg, why Maduro has allowed him to run, or get this far. “So far the government has been silent on all of this,” he said. “We still don’t know why.” But Maduro’s administration is already looking at ways to rig the election, including finding means to disqualify González or to nix the opposition’s voting card, Bloomberg reported. International observers are also finding it hard to oversee the election’s integrity: Maduro’s Chavismo party revoked an invitation for European observers to attend the election in July, and Colombia and Brazil gave up on sending their own observers, too. The absence of international observation can increase the risks of “attempts of manipulation,” a lawyer told Voz de América.

Chavismo party ‘broke promises;’ voters want change

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Source:  
Americas Quarterly

Many Venezuelans are disillusioned with Maduro’s government, which hasn’t delivered the welfare state it promised, one Venezuela-based journalist wrote in Americas Quarterly. Maduro’s regime found initial success by providing one-off bonuses, food assistance, and public employment, and by favoring rural and low-income portions of the population. But the system stopped working, and more than 65% of Venezuelans earn less than $100 a month, the outlet reported, and inflation is rampant. Many people have no way to support themselves, one researcher said. Instead, the opposition party offers “an attractive message, of hope, change, alternation,” a historian added.

Polls don’t mean victory

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Sources:  
El País, Efecto Cocuyo

While the polls show opposition firmly in the lead in Venezuela, people associated with Maduro’s party have warned that doesn’t guarantee a victory for González. And even if the opposition wins the election, Maduro is unlikely to concede a win. “It’s a whole operation of deception, Nicolás is going to win,” said Jorge Rodríguez, the President of Venezuela’s National Assembly and a key Maduro ally, during a recent appearance on national tv. And polls should be taken with a grain of salt, according to some polling analysts, with one saying it’s “a rotten lie” to think the opposition has a real advantage over Chavismo, El País reported. Chavismo, the pollster noted, is organized and its support spread across the country, and it controls key institutions. Voter abstention and indecision, as well as the voters choosing other, minority candidates, might have an effect on the apparent lead, too.

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