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Venezuela's Chavez leads election poll

(Xinhua)

13:49, July 17, 2012

CARACAS, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez enjoys a substantial 15 percent lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in the run-up to the Oct. 7 election, survey results showed Monday.

According to the latest poll by the Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis, among the 1,300 people surveyed between June 14 and 23, 46.1 percent will vote for Chavez, 30.8 percent for Capriles, and the rest were either undecided or undeclared voters.

Datanalisis Director Luis Vicente Leon said it was still too soon to predict what would happen on Oct. 7, but the poll showed the gap between the two front-runners was narrowing from 17 to 15 percentage points.

Leon said the high number of swing voters just three months before the election was due to Chavez's latest entry into the race. He added winning them over would be key to winning the election.

Most other polling firms also place Chavez in the lead, though with different margins.

Chavez, 57, is still popular after 14 years in power due to his oil-financed welfare spending and his enduring emotional connection with the country's poor majority.

He assured last week that a June 2011 diagnosis declared him cancer-free, after two operations and heavy medical treatment, during which he was absent from public life.

His main rival, 40-year-old Capriles from the conservative coalition, promised to end what he called the president's radical, statist policies and set up a Brazilian-style "modern left" administration, while projecting an image of youth and energy.

The results of the next Datanalisis survey will be released in September, just a month before Venezuela's 19 million eligible voters go to the polls.

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