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Survey Insights into Venezuela After Chávez

Hugo Chávez ruled Venezuela for 14 years, re-structuring the country’s government and setting the nation in a new direction. With his death in early March after years of battling cancer, will Venezuela continue to adhere to Chavismo or is the population ready to move away from leftist, anti-American rule? And how is the political opposition viewed by the public?

In January 2013, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) joined Ipsos Public Affairs Polling to ask the Venezuelan public their opinion of Chávez, his legacy and what will come next.

The survey revealed that while Chávez and the Chavismo movement still enjoyed a majority of popular support, equal numbers of Venezuelans believed the country was on the “wrong” track as those who believed it was on the “right” one. Since September 2012, Chávez’s ratings declined in two main areas: crime and food supply – with crime as the single most concerning issue to Venezuelans. Alternatively, a majority of respondents (70%) believed the last elections were fair and transparent.

As for Chávez’s legacy, 52% of respondents said they would support interim President Nicolás Maduro as Chávez’s successor. Ten percent said they supported Chávez, but would not support Maduro. Thirty-three percent said they did not support Chávez and would not support Maduro in turn.

With elections scheduled for April 14, Maduro will vie for the presidency against opposition leader Henrique Capriles. According to the poll, 53% of voters would cast their ballot for Maduro and 41% for Capriles.

This matchup is as Venezuelans expected; when polled in January, 55% believed Maduro should replace Chávez as head of the Chavismo movement and 77% believed Capriles would be the opposition leader to Chávez’s successor.

Respondents who would not vote for either candidate or did not know how they would vote each stood at 3%.

The data also suggests Capriles would be more likely to succeed in an election against the head of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello than Maduro.