Luis Vicente León: Chávez gets well, endorses, or the worst
To the expert's mind, the president might be sworn in and resign afterwards
Taking informational restrictions into account, León envisages three scenarios.
The best scenario for Chávez. He avows to his illness, but thinks he will be strong enough to take office again. "I would dare say that this is the least likely forecast given the characteristics of his disease. However, it cannot be ruled out. He might even play the game had they decided to show him as the phoenix arising from the ashes. Therefore, no election has been called, because Chávez is pondering on his return and they are waiting for the good timing for him to get well.
Back to Caracas, Chávez plans to be sworn in, resign and emotionally endorse the electioneering of Vice-President Nicolás Maduro. "Chávez is not as strong as to take office again; he prepares to finish off the issue of his inauguration, call an election in two or three months and shoulder his heir apparent. This is a most likely scenario."
"This has not occurred thus far because a long while could be against Maduro. In such period of time, he would be himself, with the costs associated to the country problems. An event may arise that Chávez would be able to sort out, not him."
The expert thinks that some months could be good for Maduro, because, in this way, he could be the recipient of all the feelings associated to Chávez and consolidate a leadership that did not exist previously. "Four months ago, rather than Maduro, Chávez's heir apparent in the mind of all Venezuelans was then Vice-President Elías Jaua. In this way, you consolidate a leader already elected by Chávez and put him in office because power is instrumental in part of the leader-masses relationship, and that is very important from the electoral point of view."
For this reason, he explains that an election shortly after Chávez's announcement (reporting that he was ill and encouraging supporters to vote Maduro just in case) was not really appropriate for Chávezism. "They need to nail down their leader, get stronger and solve the problems as to internal division. To that end, they need time, which may be around three or six months." "If there is indeed a strategic design and Chávez gets well, not to get back to office, but to wait for the good timing, the election could be held by the middle of this year."
This is the most dramatic one. "Chávez's health is deteriorating. There is no hope as to keep him alive for long because his illness is in the terminal stage, yet he can survive additional three years. Anyway, suppose he will not and doctors expect an outcome this year."
In that case, when the election would be held?
They will wait for the natural outcome; doing otherwise is worthless. The president's demise, besides prompting a new election, would become the most important emotional asset of Chávezism. Such campaign, conducted in one month term, that is, President Chávez's funeral, would probably give Chávezism an impressive election advantage. The death of a leader on top of his popularity would be mighty against the backdrop of voting. Chávez's funeral would turn into the election campaign.
León gives a recent example: "Cristina Kirchner gained 20 points as a candidate for president after the death of Néstor Kirchner. Viewed rationally, one wonders why she got such a proportion if her husband was the one who died and she was the president. That is not rational, but they are feelings, and feelings are very powerful in politics."
Translated by Conchita Delgado
That political protest in Venezuela has lost momentum seems pretty obvious: people are no longer building barricades to block off streets near Plaza Francia in Altamira (eastern Caracas), an anti-government stronghold; no new images have been shown of brave and dashing protesters with bandanna-covered faces clashing with the National Guard in San Cristóbal, in the western state of Táchira; and those who dreamed of a horde of "Gochos" (Tachirans) descending in an avalanche to stir up revolt in Caracas have been left with no option but to wake up to reality.