This could be even more meaningful than the previous one. If Henrique Capriles does not maintain control of Miranda state, his political career will have stepped back irreversibly and the costly unity of the opposition will be jeopardized.
Oppositionists have not recovered from the defeat. It just happened one week ago. The gap between President Hugo Chavez and Capriles was not narrow at all in one of the most eagerly anticipated presidential elections in the world.
It was a two-digit gap, as most pollsters said, but the opposition did not expect that. Two of its main leaders, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo and Armando Briquet, appeared on Venezuelan television promising a better future from October 8th, after the election day.
Minutes after the optimistic speech, the president of the National Electoral Council gave the results surprisingly early, breaking all expectations of the opposition without an explanation for the people who had been biting their nails while watching a close race in the early hours of the voting.
There was no answer from the opposition, but there was quick recognition of the defeat to preserve the honor of the promising candidate. Fraud accusations surged immediately, urging party’s leaders to say they accepted the results without any reservation.
That day finished faster than it came and when most of the opposition leaders woke up the day after, they realized the country has another fight coming. No time for complaining, no time for moaning.
“I already stood up. Did you? I am sure you did. I will not leave my whole country to a single choice. We have to start working hard for the battles coming. Let´s go!,” Capriles said to his followers trying to be more optimistic than in his previous speech, a short notice about the defeat with sad faces around him and eyes doing their best not to cry.
In less than a week, Capriles became candidate for reelection in Miranda, a challenging state and the second biggest of the country. His contender this time: the former vice president Elias Jaua, a radical socialist with all the governmental support someone can have.
“Miranda will not be your consolation prize,” Jaua shouted in a meeting organized hours after the presidential election with the same “Venezuelan heart” posters that Chavez used for his own campaign. Other picture in the middle and that is it. No need for creative propaganda if you have your chief supporting you.
It will be a difficult battle, this time with more risks for the opposition than for the Chavez´s government. An almost completely red map was already drawn in the presidential election. The goal for the opposition is to introduce new colors there, avoiding a repetition of what happened in 2004 when Chavez won a referendum that tried to end his term and a few months later could finish his triumph with an undeniable victory in almost all the 23 states of the country.
Four years of total abandonment of the political arena was the consequence of that. The opposition left the Congress to the socialist party in the middle of fraud claims, a space that they have not fully recovered so far.
The opposition has now to face the challenge of being the opposition, which means maintaining the power that it has gathered since the last regional election of 2008, when it won seven key states.