Guaidó was the speaker of the National Assembly during the 2018 presidential elections. After Maduro was fraudulently reelected, he claimed that the lack of democracy delegitimized the results, and that he was constitutionally the lawful interim president. He is supported by the United States and over 50 other countries. After the recent legislative elections, he promised a “popular consultation” to survey the true sentiments of Venezuelans towards the political situation in the country. The hope is that this referendum would get higher turnout than the elections themselves, therefore proving Maduro’s victory to be a false representation of democracy.
However, he is unlikely to be successful in this endeavor. Guaidó’s popularity has tanked from 61 percent to 30 percent since he attempted to claim his right to the presidency. Phil Gunson, an analyst for Crisis Group, explains that “the coalition around Guaidó is really crumbling. Unless he is able to reinvent himself in some way I think the Guaidó plan has clearly failed – and Maduro has every right to a victory lap. From his point of view, and it is hard to disagree, he’s seen the back of both Donald Trump and Guaidó. Nearly two years on [from the start of the campaign] there has been no progress – in fact, if anything Maduro is more in control, certainly politically, than he was before.” Moreover, once the new National Assembly is inaugurated, Guaidó will no longer be its speaker, removing his main platform from him.
Guaidó is now dependent on the support of foreign countries. Both the US and EU, as well as numerous other countries and organizations, have denied the results of the elections. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell claimed that “this lack of respect for political pluralism and the disqualification and prosecution of opposition leaders do not allow the EU to recognize this electoral process as credible, inclusive or transparent, and its results as representative of the will of the Venezuelan people.”
Unfortunately, this dependency has consequences for Guaidó’s fight against Maduro. As Luis Vicente Leon, president of Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis, elaborates, “you don’t resolve an internal political problem with international politics unless you’re talking of an invasion. The main issue is the internal fight and that was weakened to such a point that the opposition ended up being totally dependent on international politics.” For now, Maduro’s position as Venezuela’s dictator is secure.