Now it is official. Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles will contest Venezuela’s presidential election in October. In fact, the formal registration of the two candidates – Mr Capriles on Sunday and Mr Chavez by Monday’s deadline – merely confirms what had long been expected. But the registration removes any lingering, albeit tiny, doubt over whether President Chavez, beset by health problems, would be on the ballot. Although campaigning does not officially begin until 1 July, there have already been plenty of election-related events.
Mr Capriles was chosen in a primary election in February, with the opposition unifying behind one candidate in a bid to unseat Mr Chavez from office after 13 years. Since the primary, Mr Capriles has been criss-crossing Venezuela on a “house to house” tour, visiting poor neighbourhoods where residents complain about rickety houses and a lack of running water. The 39-year-old lawyer has appeared full of energy, greeting crowds, hugging admirers and speaking at town-hall style meetings. That is in contrast to the president.