Hope for Venezuela as opposition coalesces around one candidate
And three million of them voted in the first ever opposition primary - far above expectations.
Is Hugo finally going to be seriously challenged?
The results of Venezuela's opposition-party presidential primary, the first of its kind, was no great surprise. Youthful state governor Henrique Capriles Radonski was ahead in the polls, and won by a landslide with about two thirds of all votes.
What was surprising, however, was how many Venezuelans showed up to vote - almost 3 million people, or about one-fifth of the electorate, reports Venezuelan guest blogger Miguel Octavio. (Mr. Octavio also ran a series of photos on of Venezuelans voting abroad, from Miami to Milan, Austria to Australia.)
Mr. Capriles said last week that he hoped for at least two million voters. This larger-than-expected turnout buoys his bid to unseat President Hugo Chavez in the Oct. 7 presidential elections.
The turnout is a sign that the historically divided opposition - which boycotted legislative elections in 2005, leaving President Chavez with vast powers - has finally come together in an effort to unseat 13 years of Chavez-style socialism in the country.
"Today, the future of Venezuela won and, as we said, we repeat to everyone: there is a path, there is a path for progress, for the future, to make Venezuela a greater country," Capriles said upon his victory last night.
Even with the opposition united, Capriles faces two big obstacles. He must get a significant percentage of the poor vote - Chavez's base - while counting on a fair election. The former will be easier than the latter as Chavez has shamelessly rigged both parliamentary elections and the refererendum that eliminated term limits.
One thing is certain; Hugo has a real electoral battle on his hands for the October 7 election this year.