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.
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.