Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “is not feeling the love,” said The New York Times in an editorial. In state and local elections Sunday, opposition candidates won five of the 23 governorships, including in the most populous and richest states, and the mayoralties of Venezuela’s two biggest cities, Caracas and Maracaibo. Chavez can no longer “buy public sympathies,” and he should accept that more than half his citizens chose local rule by his opponents.

So how did the opposition come back from irrelevance? said The Washington Post in an editorial. After years of “extreme and counterproductive tactics”—boycotts, a national strike, an attempted coup—they “finally found a winning answer: democracy.” If they can now fight crime and manage public services better, Chavez is in real trouble.

The election was bad for Chavez, but it “hardly adds up to a stinging rebuke,” said Ben Whitford in Britain’s The Guardian. Opponents won the cities and urban slums and a decent foundation for a viable movement, but Chavez got more votes and won the rural areas by wide margins, and he can “legitimately claim a mandate” for his socialist “revolution.”