Venezuelans cast their ballots as polls open in highly anticipated parliamentary elections that could weaken the ruling Socialist Party. Nathan Frandino reports.
Venezuelans are lining up in Caracas and reviewing their choices in legislative elections that could punish the ruling Socialist Party. The vote comes amid a prolonged economic crisis and could strengthen the opposition's efforts to challenge President Nicolas Maduro. So far, voters say the process is running smoothly. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN VOTER, VIOLETA ULAR, SAYING: "We hope it all goes peacefully and that everyone is happy and that we get what all Venezuelans want." A nationwide survey in November estimated that 55.6 percent of voters would back the opposition while only 36.8 percent would support the government. One government supporter said he had no choice but to vote against what Maduro has described as an encroaching United States. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN VOTER, LUIS AGUILERA, SAYING: "I'm here to take part in the sacred right to come and vote seeing as Venezuela is being threatened by the empire (referring to the United States) and we need to come out to vote." Polls have shown frustration over chronic product shortages and runaway inflation, signaling that voters could hand the socialists their first loss in parliament since 1999.