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Capriles, a 40-year-old centrist governor who describes himself as a “progressive” and an admirer of Brazil’s model, ran in the last presidential election in October, taking 44 percent of the votes, but was unable to prevent Chavez’s re-election.
While attacking Maduro’s handling of the crisis over Chavez’s cancer, Capriles will try to turn the focus of this month-long election campaign to the many day-to-day problems afflicting Venezuelans, from electricity cuts to crime and an inflation rate that is among the world’s highest.
Maduro, 50, a burly one-time bus driver and union leader who echoes Chavez’s anti-imperialist rhetoric, is sure to make his former boss the centerpiece of his campaign while casting himself as the only heir.
Two opinion polls before Chavez’s death gave Maduro a lead of more than 10 percentage points.
“This is going to be a really tough campaign for us, we know,” said an aide at Capriles’ office in Caracas.
“It’s hard to get everyone enthused and pumped again, we’ve only got a month, and we’re fighting Chavez’s ghost, not Maduro. But believe me, we’ll give it our best.”
Chavez’s death and the imminent vote have eclipsed other pressing issues in Venezuela, including a raft of economic austerity measures the government had been expected to announce