Venezuelan regional elections both a win for supporters and opponents

Monday, November 24, 2008

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's party won a majority of states during this Sunday's election, although his opposition has made important headway. The election has been regarded as a test of Chávez's influence after his failed constitutional overhaul last year.

The president and many of his supporters declared this election a victory, although the opposition has laid equal claim to political progress. Pro-Chávez candidates held on to 17 gubernatorial posts, a majority of the 22 up for election, but the opposition has won five states, including Miranda.

Hugo Chávez in 2003.
Image: Agência Brasil.

Caracas is in Miranda, one of the most populous and economically important states in the country. The opposition also won Caracas' city hall. Both wins are regarded as blows to the current powers in Venezuela.

Rural voters were the largest pro-Chávez constituency, but discontent over crime, the economy, and poor public services have left some citizens unimpressed with Chávez after 10 years as president.

While Chávez has called the election "a categorical success", opposition leader Manuel Rosales said that "what's important is that the map of Venezuela has started to change."