Election in Venezuela

The polls will set a different political course because of the physical absence of Chávez

An intense 10-day election campaign in Venezuela ended yesterday amidst questions about the impact that the figure of the deceased Hugo Chávez will have, since he continues to be at the center of the incumbent party’s campaign.

From the beginning, every effort has been made to ensure that Nicolás Maduro—the former president’s appointed successor—wins Sunday’s election. Maduro has benefited from an interim presidency with irregularities and taken advantage of a government with a powerful communications network.

At the same time, Maduro fed the propaganda message surrounding Chávez’s figure, interpreting messages from the beyond and even having an encounter where the military man was supposedly reincarnated. In other occasions, the candidate imitated Chávez’s typical style of putting down his opponent, Henrique Capriles, by calling him names and making fun of him with a rap song dedicated to Capriles. And when opinion poll results became tight, Maduro promised salary increases between 38% and 45%.

We will see if this is enough to make Venezuelans forget galloping inflation, blackouts and public insecurity. Maduro began with a great advantage over Capriles in opinion polls. This advantage has been decreasing in recent days, whether because of the aggressive style of the opposition candidate or the repeated exploitation of Chávez’s figure that the current interim president is carrying out.

Venezuelans will have the last word in this new political crossroads. At the same time, they will be the judges of this first test of Chavismo without Chávez.