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Key things to know about Venezuela's congressional election

Key things to know about Venezuela and what is at stake in its congressional election

Key things to know about Venezuela's congressional election

A look at Venezuela, which is holding crucial congressional elections Sunday:

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THE COUNTRY: About as populous as Texas, with 30 million people, Venezuela boasts the world's largest proven oil reserves as well as white sand beaches, awe-inspiring Andean mountains and untouched Amazon jungle. The late President Hugo Chavez won wide notice with his charismatic persona as he imposed what he called a 21st century socialist revolution more than a decade ago.

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CURRENT GOVERNMENT: The election is the stiffest electoral challenge yet for the socialist administration, which controls all major institutions, including the National Assembly, Supreme Court and Electoral Council. Chavez's less-magnetic successor, Nicolas Maduro, has struggled to continue social welfare programs at the heart of the Chavista movement amid a collapse in the price of oil, which accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela's export earnings.

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THE ECONOMY: Widespread shortages, a plummeting currency and the world's highest inflation have Venezuelans suffering. Consumer prices are thought to have soared 150 percent this year, and the economy is forecast to shrink 10 percent. Government opponents blame a tangle of price and currency controls. The government accuses right-wing business owners backed by the U.S. of waging an economic war.

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ELECTION OUTCOME: The main opposition coalition led opinion polls by as much as 30 points and its leaders said the only way the government could keep control of the 167-seat legislature was through fraud. But it's possible the opposition could win the nationwide popular vote by a large margin and still fall short of a majority, thanks to a voting system that favors less-populated rural districts where support for the opposition is weaker.

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POSSIBLE UNREST: Venezuelans lined up in recent days take cash from ATMs and stockpiled food in anticipation of possible violence after the election. Maduro promised to personally take to the streets if his party loses, while the opposition said it would defend the people's votes -- worrisome stands for a nation wracked by months of bloody street protests in 2014.


Updated : 2021-09-22 16:29 GMT+08:00