CARACAS (Reuters) - Campaigning began on Wednesday ahead of Venezuela’s September 26 parliamentary election, with President Hugo Chavez confident of a good showing but opponents sensing they might be able to slash his majority.
Dubbed a dictator by his foes, the socialist Chavez’s supporters say his democratic credentials are proven by the fact he has won all but one of about a dozen national votes.
Following are facts on Chavez’s history at the ballot box:
December, 1998 - After a failed coup attempt six years before, ex-soldier Chavez galvanizes anger with the traditional elite to win the presidency with 56 percent of the vote.
April, 1999 - The president wins more than 80 percent support in a referendum to create a new popular assembly charged with rewriting the constitution.
July, 1999 - Chavez’s candidates win at least 119 seats in the new 131-member, constitution-making assembly.
December, 1999 - More than 70 percent of Venezuelans approve new constitution which, crucially, extends presidential terms to six from five years and allows immediate re-election for a further six-year period.
July, 2000 - Chavez wins another presidential election under new constitution, gaining 60 percent of the vote in a clear popular mandate to continue his leftist “revolution.”
December, 2000 - Government candidates win majority of posts in local municipal and parish elections.
August, 2004 - In a “recall referendum” sought by the opposition to try and oust Chavez, he wins 59 percent of the vote and remains in power.
October, 2004 - In regional elections, government wins all but two out of 23 governorships.
December, 2005 - Opposition boycotts parliamentary elections, giving Chavez candidates total control.
December, 2006 - Chavez wins a third term in presidential elections with almost 63 percent of the vote.
December, 2007 - In a first electoral defeat for Chavez in nearly a decade, Venezuelans vote down his bid to run for re-election indefinitely at a referendum. Chavez calls the opposition triumph a “pyrrhic” and “shit” victory.
November, 2008 - At regional elections, Chavez candidates keep control of 17 states, but opposition erodes his dominance by taking six posts including the powerful Caracas mayorship.
February, 2009 - Chavez reverses his 2007 defeat by winning new referendum, with 56 percent of vote, removing limits on re-election.
August, 2010 - Campaigning begins for legislative poll.
Writing and reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit, Patricia Rondon and Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Vicki Allen