Sept 27 (Reuters) - Venezuela's newly-united opposition took more than a third of seats in the National Assembly, threatening President Hugo Chavez's legislative capacity.
The umbrella group Democratic Unity also claimed to have won a majority of the popular vote in a parliamentary poll that has breathed life into the campaign to topple Chavez in the next presidential election in 2012.
Full election coverage: [ID:nVENEZUELA]
Special report: link.reuters.com/raw74p
Following are facts about opposition leaders and parties:
* About 30 parties and organizations joined the Democratic Alliance for Sunday's parliamentary vote, with a strong presence of old guard parties alongside newer movements like First Justice and A New Time. Maintaining unity, allowing younger leaders to take positions of influence, and agreeing on a single candidate will be crucial to their 2012 bid.
* Venezuela's opposition has suffered from a lack of leadership. Since Chavez took office, no lasting figure has emerged to oppose him in a country that has a history of favoring charismatic and long-lasting leaders such as former Presidents Carlos Andres Perez and Rafael Caldera.
* Chavez rose to power on a wave of revulsion at Venezuela's traditional two parties, which for nearly 20 years failed to pull the country out of economic turmoil. Those parties, Democratic Action and Copei, are now a shadow of what they were when they dominated politics for 40 years.
* After years in the political wilderness, the opposition began to make gains against Chavez in 2007 when it defeated a proposed referendum that would have overhauled the constitution to deepen his revolution and scrapped presidential term limits. A year later, several opposition leaders won important states and city halls in regional elections.
* In what may be a salutary lesson for the opposition after Sunday's result, Chavez has not let such defeats slow him down too much. He won a second referendum on lifting term limits, implemented many of the socialist reforms rejected in 2007 and moved to limit the power of opposition governors and mayors who won in 2008.
* Younger opposition leaders including Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of a large state, and Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor turned activist, are appropriating some of the language, strategies and even policies of Chavez in a bid to win over the poor and build stronger grass-roots support to face Chavez in 2012, when he will seek a new term as president.
* Older faces, such as Caracas city Mayor Antonio Ledezma, candidate for parliament Enrique Mendoza and Governor Cesar Perez Vivas of Tachira state on the Colombian border, are still prominent players who may clash with newer leaders in the selection of a candidate to face Chavez in 2012.
* A student protest movement with close ties to the opposition played a significant role in the 2007 referendum win over Chavez. This year, the students have limited their marches in favor of organizing a get-out-the-vote campaign.
* The last person to face Chavez in an election, Manuel Rosales, fled the country last year to avoid standing trial on corruption charges that he said were politically motivated.
* Rosales, cheekily known as the "philosopher of Zulia," for his hard-to-decipher turns of phrase, rose to prominence as governor of the oil state Zulia, Venezuela's most heavily populated. His successor, Governor Pablo Perez, is now one of the country's most recognized opposition figures.
* Polls show none of the country's opposition leaders reaches even 5 percent of support, compared with Chavez, who has above 40 percent in most polls.
* Some believe the person who finally replaces Chavez will have to emerge from the ranks of his own Socialist Party, perhaps promoting a third way of socially conscious politics but with more room for the private sector. One such possible candidate is Governor Henry Falcon of Lara state, who broke with Chavez this year. [ID:nN24121677] (Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Kieran Murray)
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