How did Nicolas Maduro become president of Venezuela?

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro faces a repeat election amid growing concern over his chances of surviving in office. The 54-year-old, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, has been hit by low oil…

How did Nicolas Maduro become president of Venezuela?

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro faces a repeat election amid growing concern over his chances of surviving in office.

The 54-year-old, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, has been hit by low oil prices and the collapse of the currency.

Along with his predecessor Hugo Chavez, he has also been accused of wrecking the economy.

How did he become president?

Mr Maduro succeeded Mr Chavez in 2013.

The incumbent socialist leader died of cancer two years later, prompting a power struggle.

Mr Maduro won a contest to replace him by less than one percentage point and went on to win another term in 2018.

Who is Nicolas Maduro?

He was a lower-ranking member of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, a small group of which Mr Chavez formed after winning office.

Over time he became one of the party’s most powerful figures and in recent years has almost entirely eliminated opposition from within.

He reportedly wanted to quit in 2017 after his term in office had been extended by three years but was persuaded by Mr Chavez’s wife and predecessor to remain.

How long has he been president?

Since then he has staged a series of votes to extend his grip on power, first by claiming victory in disputed polls in 2012 and then later by dubious means in late 2017.

What’s his record in office?

Mr Maduro was popular as president of the National Assembly in 2012, 2015 and 2017, but his personality has been marred by accusations of corruption and ineptitude.

At the same time, Mr Maduro’s campaign tactic – cronyism and populism – has failed to inspire his supporters, whose main issue is political and economic crisis.

In a country where people often have no access to basics like food, gas and medicine, he has been seen as unable to do anything about it.

The latter claim has become particularly galling because he previously vowed to put Venezuela on a path to economic recovery.

Not long after taking office in 2013, his administration started to reverse steps which had been taken by the Chavez government to stimulate the economy.

Instead, Venezuela joined a line of socialist-style countries that often opted for protectionism and saw imports restricted and foreign companies forced to sell assets.

Mr Maduro has also been criticised for ruling with an authoritarian regime, and of trampling the basic rights of citizens.

Is he liked by Russia?

Mr Maduro was received warmly by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in October, where he reportedly discussed a possible military agreement with Moscow.

Mr Maduro has also been hailed by Mr Putin, who said they shared “common political, spiritual and moral values”.

Is he popular?

No, barely. During his first time in office he was forced to end his Socialist Party’s domination of the National Assembly, after the opposition refused to give him the win he was claiming.

He also saw the number of governorships lost increase from seven to 14.

He has repeatedly said there will be no more elections and that it is the right of the people to express their will at a presidential election in 2023.

However, people have staged protests in Caracas in what was dubbed “The Exit”.

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