Monday, November 24, 2008

Venezuelan Opposition Gains in Vote


Venezuelan Opposition Gains in Vote -
President Hugo Chávez’s supporters suffered a stinging defeat in several state and municipal races on Sunday, with the opposition retaining power in oil-rich Zulia, the country’s most populous state, and winning crucial races here in the capital.

The losses were Mr. Chávez’s second setback at the polls in the past year, after the defeat of a proposed constitutional overhaul last December that would have enhanced his powers. The results will put opponents of Mr. Chávez in charge of areas with about a third of Venezuela’s 26 million people.

“These victories came in the economic and political centers of the country,” said Luis Vicente León, director of Datánalisis, a polling firm here. “They represent the most important symbols in terms of cities and population.”

Particularly here in Caracas, the results were rooted in festering discontent over the government’s inability to lower violent crime as homicides and kidnappings have surged over the past decade, making it one of the world’s deadliest cities. In the early hours of Monday, celebratory fireworks went off over parts of the city after the results were announced.

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