What do Venezuela's regional election results say about the opposition's future?(Read article summary)
Immediately before Venezuela's regional elections, Chávez announced his cancer was back, possibly dampening the opposition's showing as his charisma carried over to other PSUV candidates.
• David Smilde is the moderator of WOLA's blog: Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. The views expressed are the author's own.
- Hold: Miranda, Lara, Amazonas
- Gain: None
- Hold: Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolívar, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Falcón, Guárico, Mérida, Portuguesa, Sucre, Trujillo, Vargas, Yaracuy
- Gain: Carabobo, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Táchira, Zulia.
Taken as a referendum on Chávez’s legacy and the carryover of his charisma to other candidates, this result provides clear reason for celebration for the Chávez coalition. It is, of course, a brutal result for the opposition which lost opposition strongholds such as Zulia, Carabobo, and Táchira – the last two by large margins – and gained none. However, it was not a fatal result insofar as Henrique Capriles squeaked out a win in Miranda.
Taken as a primary, the vote provided some clarity for the opposition. Capriles won on a night that most other opposition candidates lost, including his most viable rival, Pablo Pérez. The only other opposition candidates to win are “dissidents” who were pro-Chávez only a couple of years ago. Thus there is little chance that they could be viable national leaders within the opposition coalition.