Venezuela’s Opposition Says Capriles Leading Chavez in Polls

Venezuela’s opposition said today that its candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski is surging ahead of President Hugo Chavez in opinion polls for the Oct. 7 election.

“Henrique Capriles is now winning in the polls. He passed the candidate of the past awhile ago,” Luis Ignacio Planas, an opposition campaign director, said today in an e-mailed statement without providing more details.

Opinion polls made public recently have varied widely. Chavez had 45.9 percent support against 45.8 percent for Capriles in a Consultores 21 poll of 1,000 people taken between June 15 and June 26. The survey had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. In a June poll by Caracas-based Datanalisis, Chavez had a 15 percentage-point lead.

Chavez, who spoke at a campaign rally today in Caracas, said that Capriles represented the past and would end social programs and close hospitals and schools if elected. The former paratrooper said on July 22 that he had an “irreversible” lead in opinion polls.

“He could maybe go be President of Mars, but the opposition will never return to power here,” Chavez said today in a speech broadcast on state television. “Chavez is what’s new. Chavez is the future!”

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