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Venezuelan Opposition's Increasing Unity Spells Problems for Chavez

Author: Joel D. Hirst, International Affairs Fellow in Residence, 2010-2011
August 6, 2011
The Commentator

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Last week, in a show of increasing political unity, Venezuela's opposition parties -- grouped under the umbrella “Table for Democratic Unity” (MUD for its acronym in Spanish) -- made an important step forward. They announced that they would go to the next presidential election with a “unitary card”.

Traditionally, each party has selected its candidate for the presidential elections before complex negotiations take place to present unitary candidates. This has often made the ballot large and unwieldy and given the feeling of a “splintering” of the opposition or the government.

President Chavez tried to address this problem with his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) -- but has recently backtracked and called for a “Patriotic Pole” again. In response, the MUD has, for this election, agreed to create a unity platform -- whereby all the parties come together under one new banner.

For many in the opposition, this was very difficult; it requires them to surrender their political party for the good of the opposition as a whole.  For example, Governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles Radonski -- should he win the primary -- would have to confront President Chavez under this new coalition banner and not “Primero Justicia”; a party to which Capriles has been very faithful and has helped to build from nothing into the powerful national force it is today.

And so, coming on the heels of a unanimous decision to head to opposition primaries, it seems that the Venezuelan opposition is headed in the right direction.

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