Maduro and Capriles will Define Venezuela's Political Future

After Hugo Chávez's death, Venezuela's future became uncertain.

The debate is now focused on the progression of chavism without Chávez, a scenario which began to emerge on December 9, 2012. On that day, in his last public appearance [es] the President founded the bases and gave instructions for the continuity of his political project which up until then had him as the only center.

Even though the Constitution [es] provides specific instructions on the steps to take after president Chávez's absence, the various interpretations of the document have generated controversy among the different political actors in the country.

Former president and current congressman of the National Assembly (AN) Fernando Soto Rojas [es] stated that Diosdado Cabello, current president of the AN, should take over the leadership of the Executive Power. Nonetheless, chancellor Elías Jaua said [es] vice-president Nicolás Maduro will serve as temporary president and will be the United Socialist Party of Venezuela‘s (PSUV) candidate for the next presidential elections, which according to Venezuela's constitution should be held within 30 days.

Nicolás Maduro, foto del usuario de Flickr chavezcandanga bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Nicolás Maduro, picture by Flickr user chavezcandanga, under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Given this fact, Suhelis Tejero (@suhelis) [es] wrote on Twitter that it looks like Soto Rojas is the only one who follows Venezuela's Constitution.

@Suhelis: Parece que el único que sabe leer la Constitución de Venezuela en el oficialismo es Soto Rojas.

@Suhelis: Apparently the only person who knows how to read Venezuela's Constitution in the governing party is Soto Rojas.

The temporary presidency will give Maduro, as it gave Chávez, the possibility to run for office with all of the State's resources at his disposal.

Luis Carlos Díaz (@luiscarlos) [es] agrees that the decision to place Maduro as the temporary president is tied to the capacity to get resources for the campaign.

@luiscarlos: El Gobierno es pragmático: mantener a Maduro en el poder le permitirá hacer otra campaña electoral abusiva.

@luiscarlos: The government is pragmatic: keeping Maduro in power will allow them to carry out another abusive electoral campaign.

On the opposite side, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) published a statement [es] expressing their condolences to the family of president Chávez and to his followers. Many interpreted this move as a formal announcement of Henrique Capriles Radonski‘s candidacy against Maduro during the next elections, since he was the one to address the people. Capriles gained 45% of the votes when he ran against Chávez in the past October 7, 2012 elections

José Miguel (@JoseMiguelIRDS) [es] considers that the current governor of the state of Miranda will run against Maduro for the presidency of Venezuela.

Capriles Radonski, foto del usuario de Flickr César Gonzáles, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Capriles Radonski, photo by Flickr user César Gonzáles, under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

@JoseMiguelIRDS: Hoy quedo claro que Capriles es el candidato

@JoseMiguelIRDS: Today it became clear that Capriles is the candidate

The strategies of both candidates during the next campaign seem to be clear considering their latest speeches: Capriles will keep resorting to a conciliatory agenda and will try to show himself as a man that bets on progress for the country. He will continue to advocate for national unity and for ending the division among Venezuelans.

On the other hand, Maduro's speech hours before he announced the President had passed away clearly showed that he will continue to use Chávez and the devotion of his followers as a cohesion force within chavism. He also pointed out that he'll keep on supporting the same values Chavez represents: anti-imperialism, fighting against the right-wing, defending the homeland's sovereignty, etc.

Maria Gabriela Méndez (@MaGaMendez) [es] said that with Chavez's death, a new cult emerged.

@MaGaMendez: Muere un hombre, nace una religión.

@MaGaMendez: A man dies, a religion is born.

Even though it's too soon to talk about possible winners, many bet on a win by the governing party based on the results of the two previous electoral campaigns.

Others, like Armando Daniel Armas (@ArmandoArmas) [es], think that the future of Venezuela is not in the hands of the government but in the hands of its people.

@ArmandoArmas: El destino d la patria no está amarrado a una persona, sino a la capacidad q tengamos todos los ciudadanos d querer y trabajar x #Venezuela

@ArmandoArmas: The homeland's destiny is not tied to one person, but to the capacity that we, as citizens, have of wanting to work for #Venezuela

There are various scenarios and the possibilities are only starting to appear, but the web has been debating and talking about them for a while. Luis Carlos Díaz (@LuisCarlos) [es] and Naky Soto (@Naky) [es] host a Google hangout since before the October 2012 elections, and this time – given Chavez's death – they discussed and analyzed what could become of Venezuela's political future.

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