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Venezuela's presidential vote set for close finish

Venezuela's presidential vote looks set for close finish with Hugo Chavez facing an unprecedented challenge to his socialist rule from 40-year-old state governor and lawyer, Henrique Capriles.

Turnout was high on Sunday and voting was extended beyond the official closing time of 6pm (2230 GMT), at some polling stations where they were long queues.

Sources on both sides predicted a narrow victory based on their own monitoring, while local analysts said it looked too close to call.

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Who is the man challenging Chavez?

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez faces a battle to retain power in Sunday's tightly contested election battle against Henrique Capriles. Here are some facts about Chavez's opponent:

  • A 40-year-old law graduate, currently governor of Venezuela's second-most populous state, Miranda.
  • Became Venezuela's youngest legislator at the age of 26, then won the mayorship of a Caracas municipality.
  • His maternal grandparents, the Radonskis, left Poland for Venezuela to flee anti-Semitism.
  • A keen basketball player and sports lover, he downs Red Bulls to keep his energy up.
  • Imprisoned for four months on charges of fomenting a protest at the Cuban Embassy in 2002; acquitted at trial.
  • If elected, says he wants to copy Brazil's 'modern left' model of economic and social policies.
  • Opposes more nationalisations but proposes keeping the best of Chavez's much-vaunted "Missions" for the poor.
  • Has made education his flagship policy, pointing to a strong record of opening new schools in Miranda.

Venezuelan Presidential election set for climax

Today's Venezuelan Presidential election will determine who governs the country for a six-year term from 2013 to 2019.

Hugo Chavez is the current President of Venezuela and leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Victory for the 58-year-old today would allow him to consolidate policy control over the economy and continue his 14-year rule.

Hugo Chavez is the current President of Venezuela. Credit: Reuters/Tomas Bravo

Chavez's election rival Henrique Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor and lawyer, became the opposition candidate for the 2012 election in February this year.

He has built much of his campaign on house-by-house visits and has promised more jobs for the people of the country.

Henrique Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor and lawyer, is the Venezuelan opposition candidate. Credit: Stringer Venezuela / Reuters

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Venezuelan President faces 'toughest election' in 14 years

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez faces the toughest election of his 14-year rule today when he comes up against Henrique Capriles in a battle for Venezuelan votes.

Chavez, 58, who staged a remarkable comeback from cancer this year and wants a new six-year term, is up against Capriles - who has promised more jobs for the country's people.

Third person dies from Venezuela election shooting

A third opposition supporter has died from a shooting at a rally this weekend that was the worst violence of Venezuela's volatile election campaign, presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Sunday.

"We are going to defeat violence in Venezuela," Capriles told a rally in Caracas, after confirming the third fatality in the confrontation at an opposition event in Barinas state on Saturday.

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