Venezuela: elections mandate or “hard blow” for Chávez?

President Hugo Chávez‘s Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV) scored a string of victories in key state and municipal elections Nov. 23. “A new stage is beginning. For me, as the leader of the Venezuelan socialist project, the people are telling me: ‘Chávez, keep on the same path,'” he said after the results were announced the next morning. But in what Colombia’s El Tiempo called a “hard blow” to Chávez, the opposition won in Zulia and Miranda, the country’s two most populous states, as well the mayoral race in Caracas. Some 45 percent of the population will now be governed by policitians from the opposition. The PSUV, whose candidates won 21 out of 23 state elections in 2004, still controls 17 governorships. (AFP, Notimex, Bloomberg, Nov. 24)

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