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13:33, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
Update: 13:34, 20 June 2012 Wednesday

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Chavez predicts more than 60 pc win in Venezuela election
Chavez predicts more than 60 pc win in Venezuela election
(File Photo)

Chavez's 15.9 point lead was slightly smaller than a 17.2-point margin in the previous month's survey by Datanalisis.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez forecast he would win October's election with more than 60 percent of the vote after a new poll showed on Tuesday he held a large lead over his opposition rival.

The survey taken in May by respected local pollster Datanalisis found that 43.6 percent of voters in the South American OPEC nation favored Chavez, versus 27.7 percent for the Democratic Unity coalition's candidate, Henrique Capriles.

"The opposition know we are going to win the election. We have to win it by K.O. We are going to win the election with more than 60 percent of the votes," Chavez said on state TV.

Chavez's 15.9 point lead was slightly smaller than a 17.2-point margin in the previous month's survey by Datanalisis.

The portion of undecided voters in the poll was a substantial 28.7 percent - bearing out analysts' consensus that there is a lot left to play for.

The 57-year-old Chavez, who has been battling cancer for a year, remains popular in his 14th year in power due to his oil-financed welfare spending and his enduring emotional connection with the country's poor majority.

But Capriles, 39, a state governor, is drawing big crowds on the campaign trail and exuding an image of youth and energy that he counts on to tip the balance come voting day on Oct. 7.

The Datanalisis survey was in line with most of the country's best-known pollsters, who give Chavez a double-digit lead with less than four months remaining until the ballot.

"Almost 100 days now (before the vote)," Chavez said late on Tuesday. "A gap of 20 points ... is impossible to reverse."

"All the serious polls in this country, including one that is totally opposition, give Chavez an advantage of between 16 and 25 points," Information Minister Andres Izarra told Reuters.

"And the campaign has still not started," he added, referring to the formal July 1 beginning of the election race.

Polls show Chavez big win

A smaller phone survey conducted by Datanalisis after Chavez and Capriles formally registered their candidacies last week showed Chavez with 42.6 percent, and 28.8 percent for Capriles, a slightly narrower lead of 13.8 percent.

In a research note on Tuesday, JPMorgan said the latest polls would not change the market's perception that Chavez remains the strong favorite to win the election, if he can run.

"That said, polls of all ilk seem to be showing Chavez's lead over Capriles has stabilized, and in fact may be eroding on the margin," it said.

"We now think voters are paying more attention, and going forward the market should pay more attention to the polls ... Capriles has little time to waste, but we still think it is too early to rule out a more competitive landscape as we get closer to the vote."

While Chavez appears to be in a strong position, analysts said the volatility of Venezuelan voters and the mystery over his health meant the 2012 presidential race was far from over.

After three operations to remove two cancerous tumors in the past year, and lengthy absences in Cuba for treatment, Chavez has returned to the public limelight in the past two weeks with regular appearances on state TV and in public.

Details of his condition remain a state secret.

Although he is not walking much in public, Chavez has insisted he is recovering and will crush Capriles on election day.

Capriles said some opinion polls were skewed and that his nationwide "house-by-house" campaign was gathering steam and putting him on course to unseat the socialist leader.

Another survey on Tuesday - by pollster Gis XXI, which is run by a former Chavez minister - also gave the president a healthy lead with 57.8 percent of voter intentions versus 23 percent for Capriles.

The two candidates sparred on Monday over the possibility of a face-to-face televised campaign debate.

Chavez said he would be "ashamed" to square off with a "non-entity" like Capriles, while the opposition standard-bearer said the president was better at insulting than debating.

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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.