Venezuela's Maduro would win vote if Chavez goes: poll

Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:34am EST
 
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By Andrew Cawthorne

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro would win a presidential vote should his boss Hugo Chavez's cancer force him out, according to the first survey this year on such a scenario in the South American OPEC nation.

Local pollster Hinterlaces gave Maduro 50 percent of potential votes, compared to 36 percent for opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Chavez made a surprise return to Venezuela on Monday, more than two months after cancer surgery in Cuba, to continue treatment at home for the disease that is jeopardizing his 14-year socialist rule.

He has named Maduro, 50, a former bus driver and union activist, as his preferred successor.

Capriles, 40, a center-left state governor who lost to Chavez in a presidential vote last year, likely would run again.

Chavez still has not spoken in public since his December 11 operation in Cuba. Venezuelans were debating on Tuesday the various possible scenarios after his homecoming - from full recovery to resignation or even death from the cancer.

There was widespread expectation Chavez would soon be formally sworn in for his new six-year term at the Caracas military hospital where officials said he was staying. The January 10 ceremony was postponed while he was in Cuba.

"The president's timeline is strictly linked to his medical evolution and recovery," said Rodrigo Cabezas, a senior member of Chavez's ruling Socialist Party who, like other officials, would not comment on when he might be sworn in.   Continued...

 
Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters outside the military hospital after visiting President Hugo Chavez in Caracas February 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Silva