People holding the Venezuelan flag
People holding the Venezuelan flag Reuters

Two thirds of Venezuelan voters want the country to go in a different direction after the upcoming July presidential election, in which opposition candidate Edmundo González Urrutia will seek to start the end of over 20 years of Chavismo in the Latin American country.

The conclusion comes from a new poll by ClearPath Strategies, which interviewed 1,500 prospective voters. Results also showed that two thirds of respondents (67%) said they are very likely to go to the polls next month.

Edmundo González, virtually unknown before being anointed as the coalition's candidate following the ban of top leader María Corina Machado and her stand in-Corina Yoris, is now known virtually all Venezuelans (96%). Moreover, he enjoys a 54% favorability rate, compared to Maduro's 35%.

The figures translate almost fully to voting intention, as Urrutia would get 56% of the vote compared to Maduro's 35%. No other candidate has over 1% of support.

Most polls have shown similar results, with a recent one by ORC Consultores showing the opposition candidate with over 50% of the votes compared to Maduro's 15%.

Some 18% of respondents said they are still undecided, but even if all those votes were to go to the president, he would still be lagging the opposition candidate.

Another passage of the ClearPath survey shows that most voters believe the election's legitimacy depends on González Urrutia being allowed to participate. As the time to go to the polls gets closer, the government has stepped up harassment of opposition members.

The latest example took place two weeks ago, when three opposition activists were arrested after being involved in the organization of political rallies for González Urrutia and María Corina Machado, who said that that 37 activists have been "arbitrarily detained" so far this year.

The detentions were rejected by the U.S., with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols saying that "ongoing harassment of members of Venezuela's democratic opposition are deeply concerning developments in the run up to the July 28 presidential election." "Venezuelan candidates & activists should be allowed to campaign peacefully & free from intimidation."

The Venezuelan government harshly condemned the statement, with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yván Gil saying the country was interfering "in matters that do not concern them." "Mr. Nichols returns with his vulgar obsession to insult Venezuelans by interfering in matters that do not concern him," Gil added.

"It seems that the defeat painted on the foreheads of his puppets is causing him more pain than ever. His attempts to interfere in our process will be as effective as the policies of his government: A resounding failure! They haven't succeeded and they never will."

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