- President Maduro has largely eliminated the threat of a recall or military coup
- His longer-term survival may hinge on reviving oil output and stopping hyperinflation
- More mass protests and a default by oil company PDVSA are possible in 2017
- Even in the worst case, the Chavista government may be saved by opposition disarray
After a tumultuous 2016 in which President Nicolas Maduro appeared on the brink of falling, Venezuela’s government seems to have bought itself more time in power. This is quite a change from mid-year, when Mr. Maduro appeared on the verge of exit. However, he has proven to be more astute than his political adversaries – and even allies – gave him credit for.
Over the past six months, the president neutralized the opposition, pushed forward a bond swap to avoid defaulting on the country’s sovereign debt, co-opted an important part of the military leadership and partially defused one social conflict that posed a potential threat to his presidency. Taken together, these actions have tempered Venezuela’s restive social and economic situation and point toward Mr. Maduro’s survival in office until 2018.