MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. Venezuela will elect the president and the members of regional legislatures on Sunday amid a deep social and economic crisis.
Incumbent President Nicolas Maduro’s rivals will be Javier Bertucci, a candidate from the Hope for Change party, Reinaldo Quijada from the ultra-left party Popular and Political Unity party, and also Henri Falcon from the Progressive Advance, a small opposition party.
Some 14,600 polling stations will open for the election throughout the country. More than 20 million Venezuelan citizens are eligible to vote.
During the previous presidential election held in April 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez, his successor Maduro won a razor-thin victory. His rival from the opposition Henrique Capriles lost by a mere 1.5%, securing the support of 7.5 mln people. This time Capriles was not allowed to take part in the election. In April 2015, he was barred from politics for 15 years and the opposition was unable to nominate another popular candidate.
After the collapse of talks with the government in the Dominican Republic this February, major parties from the Democratic Unity coalition controlling the parliament, refused to take part in the election, calling it "a fraudulent imitation" of a real vote. In this context, despite the sharp decline in living standards, hyperinflation and the depreciation of national currency, many Venezuelans continue supporting incumbent executive authorities.
According to the forecast of the International Consulting Services, more than 50% of voters are expected to back the incumbent leader.
The previous major election held in late 2017 - gubernatorial and municipal - resulted in a confident victory of socialists despite large-scale anti-government rallies.
Most regional countries as well as the United States and Canada are unlikely to recognize the outcome of the presidential election, considering it as illegitimate.
In April 2013, when Venezuela elected the president after its influential leader Hugo Chavez died, the country experienced certain difficulties, but since then the situation has significantly worsened.
The collapse of oil prices in 2014 led to the depreciation of national currency and the world’s fastest growth in prices amid the lack of food and medicine supplies. According the parliament, the National Assembly, Venezuela has been hit by hyperinflation over the past six months. The challenging situation in the country has forced many Venezuelans to leave the country.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in 2016 Venezuela’s foreign debt exceeded $132.15 bln, one of the highest figures in the region.
While attributing Venezuela’s problems to the so-called "economic war" and the imperialists’ plot, Maduro pledged drastic changes in case of his re-election, but did no unveil any particular steps.