Nicolás Maduro
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro AFP

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has for years resorted to televised stunts to appear more likable to the population, with radio and TV shows where he discusses current events and engages with supporters.

He has also resorted to non-political means, such as a cartoon show called "super bigote" (super moustache) about a super hero who bores a striking resemblance to him and fights imperialism, as well as related action figures of him and his wife.

Many consider the stunts an attempt to launder Maduro's image, his government ridden with allegations of corruption and human rights violations amid a decade-long economic, political and social crisis.

Now, as the country's presidential elections approach, Maduro is set to carry out a new strategy of the kind, with a reality show aimed at choosing his campaign jingle.

"Factor M" has all the features of a stereotypical singing contest, with a critical jury and participants who talk about their life story before giving emotional performances. The twist is that all 35 of them are government advocates seeking to have their tune used to win the elections. Many criticize the U.S., like the government, saying they want to undermine Venezuela and advance their interests.

"There are so many singers in Venezuela. We have to use this historical time so they can voice their hopes," said Maduro when announcing the show.

Maduro will need any stunt he can think of, as a recent poll by Datincorp shows him trailing opposition candidate Edmundo González Urrutia by 40 percentage points.

Concretely, González has 62% of the support compared to Maduro's 20%. Other candidates got a combined 12%. And the lead could continue growing, as only 55% of the 1,200 people surveyed knew who the opposition candidate was. The Miami Herald reported that another poll from last week already showed González already had a 20-point lead.

The poll's figures are consistent with another mid-April study showing that four in ten Venezuelans would consider leaving the country if Nicolás Maduro were to be reelected. Moreover, 45% of respondents claimed they did not know what they would decide while should Maduro win and only 16% expressed their desire to stay in the country if such an outcome were to take place.

Opposition leader María Corina Machado, who was set to be the presidential candidate but was banned by the government-friendly Supreme Court, has warned that a Maduro victory would catalyze a new migratory wave from the country.

Close to 8 million people have left Venezuela in the past year, the largest exodus in the Western Hemisphere. Most of them have gone to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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