Most opposition insiders were viewing today’s primaries to select opposition candidates for Parliament with a mix of fear and dread. Many voters were not informed of the election, the media was looking the other way, and the funding was short. The goal was to get 350,000 voters to show up (out of around 7 million eligible to vote).
According to MUD Secretary General, Chúo Torrealba, 550,000 people voted, an excellent turnout considering the odds.
Let’s not kid ourselves: voting in a primary to select a candidate for a Parliamentary election is the kind of inside-baseball action reserved for political junkies and subversives. In short, it was for the true believers in the opposition political parties. It was always bound to be a low-key, meagerly attended affair.
The fact that turnout wasn’t all that bad was the main story here, and it showed in the buoyant expressions of the MUD politicos who attended the results press conference.
Here are the highlights of the people who won:
Caracas: Jesús Abreu of Voluntad Popular and José Guerra, an independent backed by several parties. Guerra in particular was a favorite of ours – a well-respected economist who has gone from being in the Central Bank to canvassing the streets of western Caracas.
Carabobo: Enzo Scarano. The formerly jailed mayor of San Diego has gone from being a political prisoner in the Helicoide to being a candidate for the National Assembly. Marco Bozo of Primero Justicia also won – Bozo is another emerging leader who linked himself to the popular Scarano.
Táchira: Daniel Ceballos. The still-jailed mayor of San Cristóbal won his primary comfortably. It’s not known if he will be let out of political prison in order to campaign. Gaby Arellano, the Voluntad Popular student leader, also won her primary
Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular emerge as the two main political parties in the opposition, with AD maintaining a presence in the hinterlands where it has usually been strong.
The fact that this primary was not a disaster is the main takeaway here. Now, on to the election – whenever that will be.