The political meaning of the death of Hugo Chavez

12 mars 2013
The first major event will happen in thirty days. With the death of Chavez, the Venezuelan Constitution establishes the need of a new election within the thirty days period.

In virtue of the political strength of the Chavez`s administration, as well as with the public opinion, adding to that the commotion that the country is experiencing, it is not likely that the opposition, even unified around the name of Henrique Capriles, Governor of Miranda and candidate defeated by Chavez in the last October, will be able to dictate the rhythm of the election and break the hegemony of the Chavism.

In this sense, with the blessings given by Chavez, immediately before travelling to Cuba to a series of surgeries, in December 2012, the strongest name to succeed and inherit his legacy is Nicolas Maduro.

Nevertheless, it is important to consider that there are doubts in relation to Maduro`s capacity to maintain the “Chavism” united around him. Eventhough Maduro has a good transit with the Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV), he does not have a good relationship with the military “Chavistas”. This dates back from Maduro`s days as chancellor, when he generated many moments of friction with the military leaders, including taking away many individuals from the Armed Forces that were acting as Ambassadors abroad. Despite the allegiance towards Maduro, displayed in national television a few days ago, the relationship difficulties around them are latent.

Apart from Maduro, there are also other names seen as alternatives. The President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, has a strong influence in the business and military sectors, and is a name that has offered himself in previous occasions to lead the country. The Minister of Energy and President of the state-owned oil company PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez, is also a name seen as strong by several analysts. Ramirez, was seen by many as the “number 2” of the government. It is important to remember that Cabello is a key person for the succession period. It is his responsibility to build the bridges between Maduro, the businessmen and the military.

Despite the alternative names of Cabello and Ramirez, all indications point to Maduro as the government`s candidate. His adversary, will, very likely, be Capriles, who is the main name of the opposition.

Eventhough there are strong, structural problems in the economic and social aspects, which are worsening by the day, the commotion caused by the death of Chavez will play a major role to impede any feeling for change of the voter towards the “Chavism”.

Recent opinion polls confirm the advantage of Nicolas Maduro over Henrique Capriles. Today, Maduro, from the PSUV party would defeat Capriles of the MUD party by 50% to 36%.
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