The heir of the commander, Nicolas Maduro, has won a narrow victory in the Venezuelan presidential election.
Maduro rode the Chavez factor to victory, winning 50.7 percent of the vote to the 49.1 percent of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles:
“Capriles I told you, and I say it publicly, ‘if I lose by one vote I’ll hand-over to you tomorrow, but that’s not how it happened. I won by 300,000 votes, it is the decision of the people,” said a victorious Maduro.
As the election results filtered through Maduro supporters took to the streets and Caracas exploded in celebration. Those opposed banged pots and pans in protest.
The spectre of Chavez filled the air:
“Long live Chavez, long live the people of Venezuela,” screamed one supporter, while another spoke of a need to preserve the legacy of the commander: “Chavez left us a solid base, we cannot let that go to waste. That is why this was such a fierce battle.”
Once normality returns the country Maduro will have the difficult task of unifying a deeply divided county with an opposition with legitimate demands for a stake in the decision making process.
Euronews correspondent in Caracas Pablo Herrera said:
“The supporters of the Chavez movement are in ecstasy because this election was in fact a kind of referendum on the road set by Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution. The challenge now for Maduro is to consolidate that model in the middle of a huge crisis.”