Yesterday evening, Miranda Governor and Primero Justicia (Justice First) candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski decisively earned the Venezuelan opposition presidential nomination, winning over 62 percent of votes in the primary contest. He will face incumbent President Hugo Chávez in the October 7 election. In his victory speech, Capriles Radonski proclaimed, “I say to all our people, without fail: we came to build a distinct future, we came to build a future for all Venezuelans. Now is not the hour of left nor right; it is the hour of Venezuela, of all Venezuelans.”
Unlike the 2006 election, Chávez, who is competing for a third consecutive term, now faces a united alliance of opposition parties: the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Coalition for Democratic Unity, or MUD). Over 2.9 million Venezuelans voted yesterday, a number that surpassed expectations. All MUD candidates signed a pledge in 2010 promising to respect the results of yesterday’s primary, and to rally behind the winner.
While yesterday’s MUD primary was open to any eligible Venezuelan voter, Chávez warned his supporters against participating, claiming that the social welfare programs enacted during his presidency would disappear were he to lose in the October general election.