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People buy government subsidized food at a state-run market, one day before state elections for governors and legislators, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. If candidates who support Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gain or even hold steady Sunday, the executive branch could strengthen its hold on the grass roots, as communal councils decide, often based on loyalty, such questions as who gets a new roof, or who receives vocational training, distributing the funds directly. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Fernando Llano, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

Venezuelan elections a test for Chavez's movement

  • Associated Press
  • December 16, 2012 - 5:56 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelans are choosing governors and state lawmakers in elections that have become a key test of whether President Hugo Chavez's movement can endure if the cancer he is battling proves terminal.

Voters were awakened before dawn by fireworks and reveille blaring from speakers mounted on trucks in some areas of Caracas.

Governorships in all of the country's 23 states are being decided in the elections. Chavez's party currently controls all but eight of the states, and if it maintains its dominance the vote could help the president's allies deepen his socialist policies.

Sunday's vote is the first time in Chavez's nearly 14-year-old presidency that he has been unable to actively campaign. He hasn't spoken publicly since undergoing cancer surgery on Tuesday in Cuba.

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