Venezuela’s opposition is projected by polls to win a majority of governorships in Sunday’s regional elections. Here are some things to know about voting that is being watched as an indicator of how much support President Nicolas Maduro maintains as economic problems grip the country.
WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT
Venezuelans are choosing governors in all 23 states in election that were supposed to take place last December, but were postponed by the government-friendly National Electoral Council after polls projected heavy losses for the ruling socialist party.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
If the opposition wins a majority of the races, it would be the first time since 2000 in which candidates backed by the ruling party coalition do not dominate. Governors’ offices have become bastions of support for Maduro and losing them would be a blow to the socialist movement founded by the late President Hugo Chavez.
Days before the vote, electoral authorities announced that 203 polling stations, many in opposition strongholds, were being moved. The National Electoral Council said the relocations were due to security reasons, but opposition leaders contended it was another attempt to create confusion and prevent people from voting.
COUNTING THE VOTE
The July election of a constitutional assembly with the power to override all other government branches was marred when a voting software company accused officials of manipulating turnout figures. The opposition boycotted that vote and had no monitors at voting centers, but this time is expected to have representatives on hand to assess vote reports.
Whoever takes office will have a full slate of problems to tackle. Analysts project inflation, already in triple digits, could surpass 1,000 per cent this year. Cash shortages have Venezuelans forming long lines at banks several times a week to take out measly sums that rarely add up to more than a few dollars. Medicine and food shortages are endemic.
WHAT COMES NEXT
Even if the opposition wins big, it could face obstacles both in taking office and in governing. The constitutional assembly could take actions to thwart them, like declaring certain political parties illegal. Pro-Maduro state legislative councils also control many aspects of daily governance and could hamstring opposition governors.