ICYMI: Venezuela Elections 2012: Leopoldo Lopez Quits Presidential Race
Venezuela Elections 2012: Leopoldo Lopez Quits Presidential Race
The Huffington Post
January 24, 2012
By Fabiola Sanchez
CARACAS, Venezuela — Opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez bowed out of Venezuela’s presidential race on Tuesday, saying he will support front-runner Henrique Capriles Radonski.
The announcement gives a significant boost to Capriles, who has a commanding lead in the polls ahead of the Feb. 12 opposition primary, which will choose a single challenger to face President Hugo Chavez in the Oct. 7 presidential election.
“You will be the next president,” Lopez said at a news conference with Capriles. The two embraced and raised their arms before a cheering crowd. “In me, he will have a great ally,” Lopez added.
Lopez, a former Caracas district mayor, has been trailing in recent polls.
Capriles, an athletic 39-year-old, has captured support among Venezuelans by presenting himself as a capable manager and pledging to solve problems such as rampant crime, unemployment and 27-percent inflation.
Capriles has tended to avoid direct verbal confrontations with Chavez and has described his politics as center-left. He likens his approach to that of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who promoted pro-business policies while funding expansive social programs that have made him popular among the poor.
Capriles is currently the governor of Miranda state, which is the country’s second-most populous state and includes parts of Caracas as well as largely impoverished towns in the surrounding hills. He served as mayor of the capital’s mostly middle-class district of Baruta before he was elected governor in 2008, defeating a close ally of Chavez. He is also a former congressman.
“We need all your good ideas here,” Capriles told Lopez during the news conference. “We both have the same dream.”
Both leaders repeated Capriles’ campaign slogan, “There is a way.”