Challenger Henrique Capriles is gaining on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez but remains 10 percentage points behind as the Oct. 7 election nears, two sources who have seen a new poll tell Reuters.

Recent Datanalisis' polls show support for Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor, growing in the waning days of the campaign as he continues campaigning across the country.

Capriles' has vowed to create a Brazilian-style "modern left" that balances free enterprise with social welfare programs. Investors expect him to end a five-year nationalization crusade and reduce state intervention in the economy if elected.

Chavez, who has been in office for 14 years, says he will deepen his oil-financed socialism if he wins another six-year term. That would likely feature continued confrontation with the private sector and efforts to support leftist allies in the region.

Capriles Monday led a massive caravan in the sweltering state of Vargas, alongside the Caribbean Sea, waving to supporters from atop a truck. At times he narrowly averted being dragged to the ground by female fans trying to hug him, Reuters reported.

"Let me tell you, someone who hasn't done what they were supposed to do in 14 years is not going to do it in the next six years," Capriles told supporters, who sang and danced to salsa in the spirit of Venezuela's political rallies, which often look more like street parties.

 

A group of about 100 Chavez supporters waited at the end of the caravan carrying signs that said "Get out, thief" and throwing water bottles at Capriles. The confrontation fizzled without incident, in contrast to recent skirmishes at rallies that have left several people wounded.

The Datanalisis' survey showed Capriles with 37.2 percent of the vote to 47.3 percent for Chavez, closer than the 12.5-point gap in the last Datanalisis survey.

The poll, which had a margin of error of 2.4 percent, was conducted between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, the sources said. Datanalisis did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation of the details.