A recent article in The Atlantic extensively documents and details the extent to which Chavez had institutionalized and consolidated his power over the past 14 years, before passing away last month. Intimidation, corruption, manipulation, and outright violence prevented any serious opposition from having a chance at fair representation in recent dubious elections.
In 2005, exasperated voters flat out boycotted the faux elections, and only 17 percent of eligible voters turned out.
While this silent protest caught the attention of some international organizations like the OAS, and the EU, little else was done, and the result was to simply allow Chavez to consolidate his power through newly attained super majorities.
In the 2012 contest between Henrique Capriles and Hugo Chávez, exit polling showed Henrique with a lead of 51.3% over Chávez’s 48.06% with an hour left to vote, but official final reports listed Chávez with 54.4% of the votes, compared to 44% for Capriles’ opposition party by the end of the day, and tanks were seen prowling the streets.
And so, it should come as no surprise that Chavez’s protégé, Nicholas Maduro, was able to navigate a well organized political machine to cling to power in yesterday’s election. Even so, the margin of victory was razor thin, and Capriles has asked for a recount.