Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidency last night in a tighter-than-predicted election, managing to obtain 51% of the votes. As of last night, like the ghost-bird of Chavez, Venezuela's hope for a new future without chavismo had flown away.
But it didn't fly very far.
Already well past midnight, Henrique Capriles still refused to address the nation, citing that not every vote had been counted. The opposition candidate tweeted: "After I speak with the CNE (National Electoral Council) I will speak to our people."
Maduro, however, didn't waste a moment, celebrating his narrow victory as "the decision of the people." Having won by around 300,000 votes, Maduro initially supported a recount of half the total votes. Soon after, however, he acquiesced to a full recount. Better safe than sorry, right?
And "sorry" is exactly what Venezuela's next president will be. Inflation is predicted to rise an additional 30% this year, violence is continually on the rise, and this tiny margin in victory only proves that Venezuela is even more fervently divided than was originally predicted.
In fact, the reason it even got this close to begin with was, as I projected earlier, voter abstention on behalf of chavistas. So congratulations to Comrade Maduro, who has now inherited the hell his "father" took 15 years to create. It is his now, in all its revolutionary glory. He may now savor it.
Meanwhile, Capriles will stay as a constant reminder that 49% of the people are against the government, consistently prodding at the belly of Chavez's legacy. He has already cried foul against what he said were attempts to "change the will expressed by the people" on Maduro's behalf.
Back when Chavez won by a margin of 10%, such accusations of blatant corruption had little effect on the narrative. Today, however, with a margin of less than 1%, the charges hold their weight in the minds the collective consciousness: Sure, Maduro barely scraped to win, but what if he cheated?
And that's the dilemma. Maduro was supposed to make history with a landslide vote, not bring more insecurity to his party by casting curses on his opponents and hardly squeezing out a victory. Instead, the one who made history was Capriles, who led an honest, underdog campaign and turned it around in his favor in less than a week with a charismatic, articulate vibe. Sure, he lost but, in doing so, he launched a new legacy, one that threatens to replace Chavez's — sooner or later.
Venezuela has seen how truly separated it remains, and struggles to find some form of liberation in that truth. However, amidst one of Venezuela's tightest elections, tensions are bound to remain high. Even as Maduro accepts the responsibility he's been given, heavy unrest awaits the Venezuelan political system as well as both sides of this intensified power struggle.