Opposition Scores Key Gains in Venezuela Election

But president's backers retain majority of power
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 24, 2008 8:55 AM CST
Opposition supporters celebrate after the National Electoral Council announced their candidate Pablo Perez was elected governor of Zulia state in Maracaibo, Venezuela, early Monday, Nov 24, 2008.    (AP Photo/Reinaldo D'Santiago)
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(Newser) – President Hugo Chávez’s supporters held onto a strong majority in yesterday’s local elections in Venezuela, but the opposition party won a number of key victories, the AP reports. Chávez backers won 17 of 22 gubernatorial seats, while the opposition took the mayor’s office in Caracas and won in three of the most populous states, including major oil site Zulia, the New York Times reports.

The opposition victories “came in the economic and political centers of the country,” an analyst explains, and they put the opposition in charge of about a third of the population. At issue for many was continuing violent crime and towering food prices. Still, Chàvez backers will maintain their grip on the Supreme Court, the National Assembly, the federal bureaucracy, and all state companies, the Times notes.