OLLING before this weekend´s parliamentary elections in Venezuela suggest the opposition will win the majority of seats in the country´s National Assembly, turning the tide on over a decade of politics dominated by the ´Bolivarian revolution´ of former President Hugo Chavez.
Opposition candidates from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD)are leading by margins of 25-30 per cent in most races as the country continues to reel from falling oil prices.
President Nicolás Maduro, Chavez´s successor, has said he will “not hand over the revolution”, but the politics of Chavismo will face their toughest challenge yet as ordinary Venezuelans express fury over severe shortages, long lines, high crime and triple-digit inflation.
With the world´s largest proven oil reserves, Chavez was able to build a strong social welfare system that raised millions out of dire poverty and won him a devout following among many of the poor, winning successive elections from 1999 until his death in 2013.
Maduro has undergone a complicated transition, with plummeting oil prices doing little to harmonise a deeply polarised country that is of significant strategic interest to the United States.
If the opposition MUD does win a significant victory over the weekend, their powers will still be limited with the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) currently controlling all branches of government and state institutions, including the courts and presidency.