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VENEZUELA: No Energy Policy Changes with Chavez’s Death

Bottom line: The death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez will not usher in any changes in energy policy, as acting president Nicolas Maduro—who has effectively been leading the administration for the past several months—will stay the course for survival. Changing energy policy at this juncture would endanger cash flow and be tantamount to political suicide.

Analysis: Chavez’s party the PSUV is in survival mode and Maduro is their best chance at holding on to power. At the moment chavistas appear unified behind Acting President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s chosen successor, but there are deep divisions within the PSUV. In the immediate wake of his death, internal pressure is high to adhere to Chávez’s declared wishes.

Maduro will pander to the far left, who are his strongest supporters. Just as Chávez did, he is likely to increase social spending for misiones in the weeks leading up to the election. And Maduro will win – whether cleanly or not.

Elections will be set within 30 days, capitalizing on the emotional ties many Venezuelans felt for Chávez – the sympathy vote. But elections will probably take place 40 to 90 days from now, not in the next month because of Venezuela’s typical vacation schedule.

There will be no change in policy, and especially not energy policy. Maduro has already been effectively leading Venezuela for the past few months. More than anything,…

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