Tara Miner, Staff Writer
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will have a strong opponent in the 2012 election. Recently, Henrique Capriles, a 39-year-old governor, won the country’s primary for the presidential opposition, beginning a campaign against the incumbent.
Chavez, who is significantly older than Capriles, has been in power for 13 years. If he wins the election in October, the next time he will have to face election will be in 2019. Chavez’s policies have been increasingly socialist over past years, and in his presidency he has increased oil production and introduced social programs. In the previous 2006 election, Chavez won by 63 percent, a number that demonstrates his general popularity with the public. However, he has run into problems with religious groups and others during his reign as president who say that he neglects those in poverty. Chavez has also directly insulted the United States government, especially during George W. Bush’s presidency. In the past year,
Chavez has also had a struggle with cancer, which may affect his stamina in the long re-election campaign.
As for the election, Chavez’s administration and supporters of the current Venezuelan president have already started to rip Capriles apart, calling him a fascist and accusing him of being unpatriotic. Chavez supporters have also attacked Capriles’ personal background, making various sexual allegations. Capriles, however, promises change for all Venezuelans and continues to advocate for the poor while refuting the allegations posed by Chavez’s camp.
Political analysts say that it’s possible that Capriles has a fighting chance against Chavez, even if he doesn’t win in the fall election. Chavez will be a powerful candidate indeed he’s already been in office for over a decade and commands the loyalty of many Venezuelans. However, things aren’t as good as they could be in Venezuela. Many Venezuelans are unsatisfied with the current state of the economy and are eager to support Capriles, his youthful energy and promise of economic stability. Even if Capriles doesn’t win, it seems that the election will be close and at the very least will raise questions about the Venezuelan government.