Today’s issue of the Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin American Advisor has a symposium on the Venezuelan elections with Jason Marczak, Julia Buxton, Sadio Garavini di Turno and myself. In it we discuss what the election results suggest about the level of support for the president, the opposition and where the country may be headed next year.

Marczak, of the Atlantic Council, suggests that even if Chavismo won the popular vote, the opposition can also claim victory for wining key cities despite having been dealt a hand heavily stacked against it during the electoral contest. Buxton, of the Central European University, argues that the results are not a significant shift in the power balance and that they reflect the deep polarization between pro-government and opposition supporters. Garavini di Turno, of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, emphasizes that the opposition faced an uneven electoral playing field but managed to win key cities; he predicts an increase in repression against the opposition next year.

I argue that Maduro has reinvigorated his leadership with the popular vote results, but the opposition has made important gains in the cities. These results point to a political rural/urban divide that could become more important in the future.

All four commentators emphasize that next year will be one of tough economic challenges for the country.