Venezuela’s president has hinted that he will not accept the result of crucial mid-term elections being held on Sunday should his Chavista movement loses its majority in congress. Speaking to candidates from his ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, Nicolás Maduro warned: “I know we are going to triumph. But if something negative comes to pass I will go to the street to fight with the people, as I have always done, and the revolution will enter another stage.” Venezuela’s government has been using increasingly inflammatory rhetoric as the vote approaches in response to opinion polls showing that for the first time since former president Hugo Chávez came to power 17 years ago, his populist left-wing movement is set to lose control over the 167-seat national assembly.
Last month an opposition leader was shot dead at an election rally in the worst incident in a campaign of intimidation the United Democratic Table, or MUD, alliance says is being waged against it.
Mr Maduro said the politician was linked to organised crime and killed as part of a criminal dispute and that his opponents were now seeking to use his death to smear him.
Though pollsters have traditionally underestimated electoral support for Chavismo, they are currently predicting that the MUD could beat the PSUV by two to one, well beyond any margin of error.