Venezuela’s Opposition Fragments

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Venezuela’s opposition coalition, the "Democratic Coordinator" (CD), split in two today, as five opposition parties decided to leave the fractuous grouping. The five parties that left did so over a disagreement with the other groups on whether they should participate in the upcoming regional elections for state governors, mayors, and city councils.

The parties and individuals that do not want to participate in the upcoming October 31 regional elections argue that the opposition should not participate in the vote as long as the supposed "fraud" of the August 15 presidential recall referendum has been cleared up. Also, they insist that the opposition should fight for stronger controls over the regional vote.

The parties that are leaving the Democratic Coordinator include Alianza Bravo Pueblo (ABP, Brave People’s Alliance), La Causa R (LCR - The Radical Cause), Visión Emergente (Emerging Vision), Fuerza Liberal (Liberal Force), Un Solo Pueblo (One Single People), and various individuals.

Antonio Ledezma, of the ABP, said "this was not an easy decision to make." Cipriano Heredia, of Emerging Vision, proposed that the opposition should call for "active abstention" in the regional elections.

This is the second time that the opposition has split. The first time was immediately following the April 2002 coup attempt, when various radical right-wing groups broke from the main opposition to form the "Democratic Block." This grouping has called on the armed forces numerous times to rise up against President Chavez.

Several opposition leaders have gradually withdrawn from an active role in the Democratic Coordinator, ever since the opposition’s loss to Chavez by 59 to 41% in the recall referendum. Enrique Mendoza, who was long considered the opposition’s most likely presidential candidate against Chavez withdrew as spokesperson of the CD, partly in order to campaign more actively for his governor’s post of Miranda state. In his stead, Pompeyo Marquez, a long-time party-less leader of Venezuela’s left assumed the position of spokesperson.

The parties that have left the CD are all very small parties that have practically no chance of winning any posts in the regional elections. The remaining parties, the social-democratic parties Acción Democratica (AD - Democratic Action) and Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS -Movement towards Socialism), the christian-democratic Copei, and the conservative Primero Justicia (PJ - Justice First) all have hopes of winning posts.

The opposition currently controls eight of the 23 state governorships and over half of the country’s 335 mayors.