During the recent presidential election campaign, Nicolás Maduro, the acting president and the person anointed by Chávez as his heir benefited from a constant presence in the media, writes the Carnegie Endowment’s Moisés Naím (left), while the visibility and messages of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles were severely limited by the government.
One of the most emphatic television messages of support for Mr Maduro was that of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil. After stating that it was wrong to interfere in the internal affairs of another country, Mr Lula da Silva went on to explain why Mr Maduro should be the next president. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s current leader, immediately recognised Mr Maduro’s victory, despite the fact that both the opposition and several countries demanded a recount, citing evidence of irregularities.
In April, 600,000 people who in last October’s election had voted for Chávez changed their minds and voted against the dead president’s candidate. But not everywhere. In Rio Chiquito, a town in the western state of Yaracuy, Mr Maduro obtained 943 per cent more votes than Chávez did in October.
International pressure has forced the government to accept an audit of the recent vote, writes Naím, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. But Tibisay Lucena, head of the National Electoral Council, has been quick to urge Venezuelans “not to hold false expectations, as the audit’s only purpose is to demonstrate that the technology platform works perfectly and the results are a true reflection of the will of the voters”.