Venezuela's Maduro has double-digit lead in polls

Caracas, Mar 19 (EFE).- The ruling party candidate in Venezuela's April 14 special presidential election, Nicolas Maduro, leads the opposition standard-bearer by double digits in two polls released Tuesday.

A survey taken by Datanalisis amid ceremonies honoring the deceased President Hugo Chavez, and to which Efe had access, indicated that erstwhile Vice President Maduro is leading the opposition coalition candidate Henrique Capriles by 15 points.

The poll, taken by telephone among 1,027 people between March 11-16, with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.04 percent, showed that 48.8 percent of interviewees would vote for Maduro compared with 33.8 percent for Capriles.

Just over 16 percent were undecided or did not answer, and 1.2 percent will not vote for either candidate.

Almost 69 percent had a positive opinion of the leftist Chavez's presidency, from 1999 until his death on March 5 after a 21-month battle with cancer, compared with 19.7 percent who had a negative view of it.

Another polling firm, Hinterlaces, found Maduro leading Capriles by 53 percent to 35 percent.

The company surveyed 1,110 adults during the period March 11-16.

The difference between the two candidates reached 40 percent when people were asked which they thought would win the presidential election, regardless of their own electoral preferences.

Some 61 percent said Maduro would win compared with 21 percent who said Capriles.

The study also asked whether Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution has helped or harmed Venezuela, to which 70 percent answered that it has helped the country, 25 percent said it has done harm, and 5 percent were undecided or did not answer.

Chavez won another six-year term in last October's election. The winner of next month's ballot will serve the balance of that mandate.