by Gregory Wilpert
November 24th 2008
November 23, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)
President Hugo Chavez’s governing party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) got mixed results in the regional and local elections today, winning stronghly in 17 out of 23 states, but losing the country’s two most populous states and the Capital District of Caracas, with two more states still to be decided.
At midnight Venezuelan time, about eight hours after the first polls closed, the president of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, announced the results of the regional and local elections, with 95% of the vote counted.
According to Lucena, participation had reached an unprecedented high for a regional vote, at 65.45%. Over 17 million voters were registered, which is several million more than in the last such election four years ago. As a result, lines tended to be long and many polling places had to remain open far longer than the official closing time of 4pm.
Chávez’s PSUV lost the governorships of the two most populous states, Miranda and Zulia, and the mayor’s office of greater Caracas, which will be a significant blow to Chávez and his movement.
The perhaps greatest surprise is the upset victory, with 52.45% of the vote, of opposition leader Antonio Ledezma, of the Brave People’s Alliance, in greater Caracas. Ledezma once was governor of the city, from 1992 to 1995, when it was an appointed office. He was then elected as mayor of the city’s main municipality of Libertador in 1995. Ledezma is considered to be an integral part of the country’s old political guard, given his ties to former President Carlos Andrés Perez.