FEBRUARY 12 2012 22:29h

Primary voting goes smoothly in Venezuela


CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Primary elections in Venezuela got off to a smooth start Sunday with nearly all polling stations open for business, election officials said.

Nancy Hernandez of the Unified Democratic Panel Electoral Committee told El Universal there were some minor glitches in the voting, such as a brief power outage in the state of Barinas, but otherwise most of the polls were open on schedule.

The election will choose from among five opposition candidates seeking a spot on the presidential ballot against incumbent Hugo Chavez.

CNN said whoever wins the honors on Sunday will have the support of the rest of the candidates.

"The opposition realized that if they are not united, if they divide the vote, they can never beat Chavez," Federico Welsch, a political science professor at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, told CNN.

"After Sunday, President Chavez will have an adversary with a face and a name," Welsch added. "This time it seems like the opposition has a real possibility of winning. It's not a very high probability, but there's a chance."