|Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, casts his ballot during the presidential elections in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, on Oct. 7, 2012. Venezuela held presidential election on Sunday. (Xinhua/David de la Paz)
CARACAS, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's incumbent President Hugo Chavez, who represents the ruling Great Patriotic Pole coalition, voted in the country's presidential election on Sunday, battling against Henrique Capriles from the opposition Roundtable for Democratic Unity.
Chavez promotes a policy he calls "21st century socialism" which pursues greater state control of the economy. His supporters say Capriles' "progressive" goals would undo the ruling party's intervention on behalf of the poor.
Chavez, accompanied by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and Vice President Elias Jaua, cast his vote at the Manuel Palcios Fajardo High School in the center of Caracas, which is a rough neighborhood home to middle- and lower-income citizens.
After voting, Chavez talked to the press about the evolution of democracy in Latin America, saying the election was to be celebrated as it shows "Venezuela will continue its path of growth and greatness."
He also called on the people to respect the election process, which former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in his capacity as observer, has in the past described as one of the best in the world.
"We will recognize, back and promote the voice of the nation," said Chavez, reaffirming the ruling party's pledge to respect the outcome to be announced by the National Electoral Council (CNE).
"Have no doubt that we will recognize the results no matter what they are, whoever wants to see a solid, mature and vigorous and open democracy, let him come to Venezuela," said Chavez.
Latin American human rights activist and Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu as well as U.S. actor Danny Glover were at the polling station to greet Chavez.
Maduro had cast his vote early in the day in Carabobo, around 200 kilometers from the capital city. As he cast his vote, Maduro said "people are confident that they are casting a secure vote."
He was referring to Carabobo which marked the starting point for Latin America's 19th century independence movement, and the constitutional changes implemented by Chavez at the beginning of his rule.
"We have shown that the constitution was the path to greater democracy, even though some people had voted against the 1999 constitution fearing that it would lead to a dictatorship," he added.
The election is a one-round, first-past-the post system. There are six candidates in total, but only two are considered to have any real chance of winning.