The National Electoral Council’s decision to audit the remaining 46% of the ballot boxes will help enhance the legitimacy of Venezuela’s new president, Nicolás Maduro, although it is hard to imagine any outcome of the election other than the ruling party’s victory.
Now, Maduro’s great challenge is to continue Chavismo without Hugo Chávez.
As an election strategy, it left many doubts with the loss of a sector of the electorate until very recently faithful to the late leader turning its back on his successor, either because it never believed in Maduro or because it was scared off by the candidate’s claims and delusions. When it comes to governing, the success of a strategy of Chavismo without Chávez is also quite doubtful.
For better or worse, Maduro is not Chávez. He may be his political heir, but he does not have the charisma or the track record of the soldier who won the hearts and earned the support of Venezuela’s poorest and least fortunate. In the best of cases, he is an imitation of little use to the South American nation in its current state.
The campaign was polarizing, leaving Venezuela split into two political camps of similar strength. The outcome of the election was a defeat for the ruling party and a victory for the opposition, given prior expectations.
This scenario requires a political dialog that will be impossible to the extent that Maduro, and those who surround him, think that those who do not think like they do are fascists plotting a coup. Henrique Capriles must also adjust his attitude and remember that half the country is not with him and that under such circumstances, democracy demands a dialog.
The legacy of Hugo Chávez is a divided nation. Venezuelans need their leaders to set the example of collaboration because, without Chávez, the political times have undeniably changed.