Venezuela's opposition parties have named a crusading journalist and political newcomer to head the perennially fractious coalition confronting President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.

In accepting the position Wednesday, Jesus Torrealba said he hopes to broaden the Democratic Unity alliance's appeal to poorer Venezuelans hurt most by the bad economy but who largely were on the sidelines of anti-government demonstrations that rocked the country earlier this year.

Torrealba replaces Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, who resigned the post he held for five years after infighting erupted among the 27-party coalition between hard-liners wanting to push for Maduro's resignation and moderates favoring negotiations to set the stage for a strong showing in 2015 legislative elections.

Torrealba is a former Communist Party member best known for hosting a TV program focusing on local, grassroots concerns.