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Chávez Stays, Again


Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez fended off a spirited challenge by Governor Henrique Capriles this fall. But continuing questions about Chavez's health and the country's dismal governance suggest that change may be coming soon. Looking ahead, the opposition will need to address concerns by the very poor that social spending will dry up if Chávez is no longer in office. Meanwhile, political differences and power struggles, and a sense of demoralization, risk undermining Capriles' diverse coalition. The regional scenario would look very different without Chávez. External players should restrain from meddling during this period of uncertainty. Instead, support should focus on trying to ensure that Venezuelans continue to rely on the ballot box in determining the course of a country facing so many daunting problems.
Keywords: Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, Henrique Capriles, democracy, elections