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Maduro Bets He Can Crush Venezuela's Opposition in an Open Vote

Andreina Itriago Acosta, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro is convinced he can win July’s presidential elections without resorting to fraud.

But, if he’s wrong, he also has backup plans to cling on to power, according to people who are in contact with the administration, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive political strategy.

He would prefer to win the conventional way, by getting more votes than his opponent, since international legitimacy would open the door to trade and investment.

But polls show the president trailing far behind opposition candidate Edmundo González ahead of the July 28 vote. So, despite Maduro’s confidence, his administration is studying other options if he seems destined to lose, according to the people.

These include disqualifying González or eliminating the opposition coalition’s voting card. There’s also a possibility that Maduro could suspend the election or alter the results, according to the people.

In reply to written questions, Venezuela’s Information Ministry said the idea that Maduro had plans to cheat were unfounded speculation. Maduro’s campaign coordinator, Jorge Rodríguez, didn’t reply to requests for comment.

 

For now, Maduro likes his chances without resorting to those measures, the people said. That’s one of the reasons why his government has so far allowed González to remain in the race after other contenders were prevented from running.

Maduro has invited independent election monitors to be present for the vote, so that the result is indisputable. None has confirmed so far.

“We are going to prepare to beat them with votes on July 28,” Maduro, 61, said on Thursday.

The administration will decide how to proceed in the coming weeks, two of the people said. It remains unclear if the government will allow another replacement if it takes action against his main rival.

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