As Venezuelans vote in their general election, is the result a foregone conclusion for the incumbent Hugo Chavez or could challenger Henrique Capriles sneak a shock win?
The populist, seemingly unstoppable Hugo Chavez faces a serious challenge to his leadership from a man who faced him in his first presidential contest 14 years ago, Henrique Capriles. Chavez has been in power for 14 years
Some analysts, such as Victor Bulmer-Thomas, associate fellow at think-tank Chatham House, think 40-year old Mr Capriles could sneak the win: "I've thought for a while that Capriles will win and I'll stick with that."
Professor Bulmer-Thomas told Channel 4 News that Mr Capriles' campaign has focused on popular concerns which are key weaknesses for Mr Chavez, notably security and inflation: "The middle and working classes in Venezuela are more vulnerable to things such as kidnapping and murder than Venezuela's elites who live in gated communities and can afford to hire security.
"Also, Venezuela has the highest inflation in Latin America and this is something that Venezuelans are not used to."
Mr Chavez has recently been treated for cancer and although in Latin America it is not the done thing to focus on a candidate's ill-health - in fact in can backfire - it has meant he has not been able to travel around Venezuela and meet voters (which can also entail promising favours in return for support).
As for whether we can trust the results of the election, Victor Bulmer-Thomas says "although it is highly likely that there will be skullduggery, it's actually a difficult election to rig because in terms of the technology it's an extremely sophisticated voting system."
However, some public employees have been forced to fill out personalised forms detailing which polling station they will use, potentially with the ramifications that their vote will be tracked by the government. Such stipulations could conspire to deter voters from backing the opposition.
Personality-wise Mr Capriles has what has been described as a "lively" campaign style and has allied himself to popular policies such as a rise in the minimum wage and land titles for peasant farmers.
The result could be known as early as first thing on Monday but until then, a Chavez landslide is not a certainty by any definition.
05 July 2011