What Maduro and Lucena didn’t say is that Bush’s victory was conceded by his Democratic contender after a recount, and that Calderón’s victory was endorsed by international observing missions that monitored the entire election process, including access to television, while the Venezuelan government only allowed friendly observers who arrived shortly before the election to witness Sunday’s vote.
My opinion: There are serious questions about Maduro’s legitimacy.
If Maduro is so sure that he won, why did he speed up the official proclamation of his victory by pro-government electoral authorities on Monday, instead of waiting for the total recount of the vote that he himself had promised in his election victory speech? Why did the government carry out an “express” inauguration rather than doing a recount that could have given Maduro’s victory a greater legitimacy, as demanded by Capriles and suggested by the European Union, the United States and other countries?
The answer may be that Maduro knows that he didn’t win, or that he fears that Capriles’ 3,200 cases of voting violations in Sunday’s vote, plus tens of thousands of votes abroad that haven’t been counted, could turn around the official results.
So what will happen now? Maduro will start denouncing imaginary domestic and international conspiracies against his government on a daily basis — like his wild claim that the U.S. government inoculated Chávez with cancer, or that retired U.S. ambassadors are out to kill him — in an effort to divert attention from his questioned legitimacy.
He will also silence Globovision, the last anti-Chavista television network, which has reportedly been sold to government cronies, in hopes that a harsher censorship of the media will allow him to consolidate his power.
But the fact is that Venezuela’s opposition has emerged invigorated after Sunday’s vote, and that it will be hard for Maduro to impose a Cuban-styled dictatorship.
Unless he allows a total recount of the vote to prove his legitimacy, as he himself vowed to do in his victory speech, he will start his term under a cloud, and his authoritarian populist government may implode soon under the pressure of a collapsing economy, internal divisions and a re-energized opposition.