Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights

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Posts tagged Transition

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Venezuela’s Future Messy but not Violent

Jennifer McCoy and Michael McCarthy

Venezuelans are facing a great deal of anguish and uncertainty as they enter the holiday season.  Supporters of President Chávez, especially those who have worked closely alongside him for many years, are surely feeling a sense of loss and bereavement with the return of his cancer, along with much hope for his recuperation.  Those who have opposed his government are surely also feeling demoralized after two electoral losses and unsure of how to move forward. 
Our article in World Politics Review "Despite Uncertainty, Venezuela’s Political Scenario not all that Bleak," (access heredescribes our prognosis for a generally messy transition scenario, but not a violent one.  Our sense is that Venezuelans are accustomed to adapting to changing circumstances, hardship, and general frustrations that other people would not put up with.  They do know how to talk and to negotiate, and they are creative are finding alternate paths when the first one is blocked (whether that is a caved in road or a shortage of dollars). 
If the president’s illness lingers, there will eventually be struggles for position and power within chavismo in particular (as the sector that currently holds the reins of power).  But in the short run, the president’s supporters will show their loyalty by uniting around him.  The opposition will need more time to reorganize and build up momentum again.
In the meantime, while the country waits and watches the president’s battle for his good health, we hope that Venezuelans can take a much deserved respite during this holiday season.

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More on a Transition

David Smilde

The AP team has a good article on tomorrow’s regional elections and potential ramifications for a transition. In it I am said to expect that “whomever the Chavistas choose as their candidate to win any presidential election that would be called if Chavez, who is due to be inaugurated Jan. 10, died in the first four years of his six-year term.” I would like to clarify my position.

Whether I was misunderstood or misstated my position is really besides the point—that’s the nature of telephone interviews (actually I suspect it had to do with editing). But here is what I really think. Whomever the PSUV forwards as their candidate—Maduro, Cabello or someone else in the inner circle—would likely win a new presidential election held in the coming months. Chávez’s popularity is high and so are other important indicators such as trust, personal optimism, and evaluation of the country’s direction.

But there are economic troubles looming in 2013 with foreign exchange disequilibriums and a large fiscal debt that need to be addressed. What is more, any move towards implementing the communal state is likely to be fractious and expend some of Chávez’s political capital. So while in the short term any pro-government presidential candidate would undoubtedly fare well, that would not necessarily be the case six months or two years from now.

[Update: Many thanks to Frank Bajak who quickly had the story corrected.]

Filed under Venezuela transition