Venezuela's presidential election on Sunday gives voters a clear choice of ideology and direction in a country riven by inflation, violence and corruption.
The incumbent, Hugo Chavez of the United Socialist Party, is seeking a fourth term . This flamboyant former paratrooper says he needs more time to complete what he calls his Bolivarian Revolution.
That's a reference to Simon Bolivar, the 19th century revolutionary who helped liberate Venezuela from Spanish rule but who went on to become a dictator.
Critics of Mr Chavez now use that term to describe the president. He has poured money into health care, education and social housing.
His core vote is among the working class. But there are accusations that his forced nationalisation of industry, land expropriation and use of state media to promote himself have damaged Venezuelan democracy.
His government has become fiercely anti-American and allied itself with other countries hostile to Washington such as Iran, Belarus and Syria.
Oil has been shipped to Syria to help the economy and Mr Chavez describes President Bashar al Assad as "a humanist and a brother". Venezuela also has close ties with Hezbollah.
Mr Chavez, who is 58 and had been suffering from cancer, shrugs off all the criticism, defends his radical agenda, and says he's fit enough for another term.
His rival is 40-year-old Henrique Capriles . This former lawyer leads the Democratic Alliance. He is the successful Governor of Miranda Province where supporters say his liberal policies have benefitted everyone.
His foreign policy indicates he would strengthen ties with the USA. On domestic policy, he says that land expropriations and currency controls have led to a shortage of investment.
He also points to the massive crime rate Venezuelans suffer from - one of the highest in South America.
There are fears of post-election violence, given the passion of some supporters in what has been a bitter campaign.
Three Capriles supporters were shot dead last month in the home state of President Chavez.
The polls are inconclusive, different ones giving different candidates victory by a wide margin. Analysts expect the result to be close.