Venezuela’s Barinas State will hold a re-run election for governor today.
Initially held in December, the election was called in favor of opposition candidate Freddy Superlano against incumbent governor Argeniz Chaves. Superlano held 37.6% of the vote to Chavez’s 37.21%. Despite the narrow win, Venezuela’s Supreme Court retroactively disqualified Superlano due to pending administrative investigations against him. Barinas holds special significance for the ruling party as the birthplace of late leader Hugo Chavez and has been under Chavez family control for decades. As such, an opposition win in the state would reflect poorly on the ruling party.
The decision by the Supreme Court to hold a re-run election is likely politically motivated. Despite the Supreme Court’s intent, primary candidate and brother of Hugo Chavez, Argeniz Chavez, bowed out of the re-run acknowledging a legitimate opposition victory. Instead, the Socialist Party has put forward Jorge Arreaza for candidacy—highlighting his familial ties to Hugo Chavez. Any result today, despite the extraordinary circumstances, marks a significant inflection point in the Socialist Party. No direct Chavez family member, will hold the Barinas governor’s office. Additionally, an opposition win would further highlight the potential of growing internal party division under Nicolas Maduro.
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