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Venezuela Opposition Delighted at Macri's Argentina Presidential Win

Opposition presidential candidate Mauricio Macri celebrates his victory with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 22, 2015
Opposition presidential candidate Mauricio Macri celebrates his victory with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 22, 2015

Venezuela's opposition hailed on Monday conservative politician Mauricio Macri's presidential win in Argentina as a blow for leftists in Latin America and a good omen for their own duel with "Chavismo" in next month's parliamentary vote.

Macri, 56, defeated ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli by a margin of less than three percentage points as voters punished outgoing President Cristina Fernandez over the economy and abrasive leadership style.

That was a disappointment for Venezuela's ruling socialists, who have had a close political alliance with Fernandez and her predecessor and late husband Nestor Kirchner.

Macri is urging Venezuela's suspension from South American trade bloc Mercosur for alleged rights abuses by President Nicolas Maduro's government.

"Argentina, Venezuela and Latin America all win. Democracy and liberty win," said Maria Corina Machado, a strident opponent of Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela's opposition takes on the ruling Socialist Party in a December 6 parliamentary election where they could win the National Assembly for the first time in more than 15 years.

Beginning of the end for ‘Chavismo?

They see it as potentially the beginning of the end for "Chavismo," though the government also predicts victory and has some advantages in voting geography and mobilization capacity.

Polls show the opposition ahead on voter preferences, mainly due to anger over the economy: the world's highest inflation, recession and widespread product shortages.

"Argentine society wanted change and achieved it, democratically and in peace. We Venezuelans will also achieve it!" said a Caracas opposition mayor, Ramon Muchacho.

Some opposition leaders noted pointedly how Scioli had quickly and graciously accepted defeat.

"I hope Mrs. Lucena can see how elections are done. Access to information!" wrote Henrique Capriles, who unsuccessfully claimed fraud after losing a 2013 presidential vote to Maduro, referring to Venezuela's election board head Tibisay Lucena.

Venezuela's on-the-day electronic voting system is highly rated by international experts. But critics accuse the government of skewing the vote in advance by shuffling districts, naming voting centers after Chavez, and using state resources for publicity and transport.

Officials say the opposition has a non-democratic agenda and is planning violence.

Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuela's best-known jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, said she was in Argentina for the vote and had hugged the incoming president's wife.

"She told me she was with Venezuela, she said 'I am with you and with Leopoldo," Tintori said. "Political change in Latin America is starting. Argentines achieved with their vote what is coming to Venezuela on December 6.”

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