The Washington Post

Capriles wins Venezuela’s first opposition primary vote, will challenge Chavez


State governor Henrique Capriles won Venezuela’s first opposition primary vote by a wide margin Sunday, emerging as the candidate to challenge 13-year leader Hugo Chavez. (Fernando Llano/AP)

State governor Henrique Capriles won Venezuela’s first opposition primary vote by a wide margin on Sunday, emerging as the single candidate who will try to end President Hugo Chavez’s 13 years in power.

Capriles, the 39-year-old governor of Miranda state, faces a tough task in ousting Chavez, a charismatic campaigner with a loyal following and the full powers of the state to back his candidacy in the Oct. 7 elections.

Opposition election chief Teresa Albanes announced the preliminary results, saying that Capriles won about 62 percent of the vote, beating Zulia state Gov. Pablo Perez by more than 30 percentage points.

Chavez’s opponents lined up to vote in many areas, surpassing most expectations with a turnout of about 2.9 million ballots cast out of Venezuela’s 18 million registered voters.

Capriles had been the front-runner in preelection polls among five contenders, presenting a younger, energetic alternative to the Chavez, 57, who has recently battled cancer.

“He’s going to be the candidate who can get us out of this giant hole we’re stuck in,” said Carmen Gloria Padilla, 66, a telephone company employee who voted for him.

Hundreds of supporters celebrated the win outside Capriles’s campaign headquarters, holding small flags emblazoned with the slogan “There is a way.” Fireworks exploded in the sky above the crowd.

Some of Capriles’s supporters said they think he has a good chance of winning over Venezuelans who otherwise might lean pro-Chavez because he has taken a largely nonconfrontational approach while promising solutions to problems including 26 percent inflation and one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America.

Diego Prada, 23, a marketing manager, said he thinks Capriles’s inclusive approach offers a much better chance against Chavez than other competitors who have taken a hard line against the president.

“People are tired of so much confrontation,” Prada said. As for Capriles, he said, “he has a message of unity.”

The once-divided opposition has gained popularity in recent years, and the race could end up being the toughest reelection bid of Chavez’s career.

The leftist president won reelection with 63 percent of the vote in 2006, but his popularity has declined since, in part because of crime and economic trouble.

Associated Press

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read

world

the_americas

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.