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Venezuelan Opposition to Snatch Defeat From Jaws of Victory

Wilson Castro, left, an opposition activist, speaks with a resident while standing barefoot on flooded road. Photographer: Meredith Kohut/Bloomberg

Wilson Castro, left, an opposition activist, speaks with a resident while standing barefoot on flooded road. Photographer: Meredith Kohut/Bloomberg

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Few countries seem as ripe for political turnover as Venezuela. After 16 years of one-party rule, it suffers the world’s highest inflation, a murder rate worse than Iraq’s and chronic shortages requiring hours in line to buy chicken or aspirin.

Yet, come legislative elections in December, the opposition probably won’t win a big enough majority to recover power. Its fractured 27 parties, cronyism and robust neglect of the hinterland are expected to help keep it from the needed threshold to unseat the socialists, in power since Hugo Chavez drove it from office in 1999.