A year ago, few could see the troubled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who maintained power for a second term.
And yet, Maduro appears to have won a second mandate in the presidential election on Sunday, despite presiding over the ruined South American country The Economy, which lacks food, and the protests claimed 125 lives last year.
The 55-year-old former bus driver and union leader has never doubted that he would be re-elected in an election from which he himself ran from December to May
However, he had to succeed Hugo Chavez from 1999 to was president to his death in 2013 and who appointed his former foreign minister to succeed his own populist leftist ideology to fight for recognition
"His authority was born from the legacy of Chávez, but now we have another Maduro who knows that he is strong and more aggressive, "said Felix Seijas, director of the Electoral Board of Delphos, to AFP.  His term of office was turbulent: economic crisis, rising poverty and crime, widespread emigration, violent street protests and international sanctions.
To quell the opposition and strengthen its influence on power, Maduro created the All-Powerful Constituent Assembly with Loyalists last year
"Five years ago, I was a freshman," he told a recent meeting. "Now I am a standing Maduro with experience in the struggle faced by the oligarchy and imperialism, I have arrived stronger than ever."
Despite increasing popularity, he is strongly advocated to be re-elected over Henri Falcon. a former military officer and Chavist dissident, who not only fights Maduro's stranglehold on the country, but is also urged by major opposition parties to boycott the vote.
– & # 39; No chavist & # 39; –
In 2013, by a slim majority, Maduro is accused by his critics of gross mismanagement of the country's economy and is a "dictator" who watches over everything, including the army.
The only bastion of the opposition, the Parliament, has seen its power confer to the Constituent Assembly
Chavez considered him "a pure and tough revolutionary"
But some are skeptical: "He may be a madurist but not a chavist, "said Ana Elisa Osorio, a former minister under Chavez to AFP
Maduro responded to his c. Englisch: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…80&Itemid=58 "a Democratic president" and fight against an "economic war" triggered by US political rights leading to hyperinflation and scarcity of food and medicine.
"He was underrated, not only by the opposition, but also by many Chavists," said Andres Canizalez, a political communications expert.
"But he has benefited from others' mistakes and managed to neutralize his opponents within chavism as well."
Announced as Possible presidential candidate Rafael Ramirez, former head of the state-owned oil company PDVSA and Chavez confidant, was banned last year Dismissed as a United Nations Ambassador on charges of corruption.
– & # 39; Workers' President & # 39; –
"Maduro experienced a metamorphosis and these elections are the culmination of this process, we could move from chavism to" madurism "," said Canizalez. Without the charm of Chavez, Maduro had attempted to copy his predecessor with long daily appearances on television, using popular language and anti-imperialist rhetoric.
But he has gradually started to form his own image.
The socialist leader, who calls himself a "worker president," wears a big black mustache, drives a van, mocks his poor English skills, dances the salsa, and is omnipresent on social networks.
Passionate about baseball, he was a guitarist in a rock band when he was a teenager.
Married to a former prosecutor, Cilia Flores, with whom he often performed, even dancing. She is the father of "Nicolasito," 27, a member of the Constituent Assembly born in his first marriage.
As a token of his changing image, his motto this year is "Everyone with Maduro, Loyalty and the Future."
In 2013, it was "Chavez Forever, President of Maduro".
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stands firm for re-election
Maduro dances with his wife Cilia Flores during the closing rally of his pre-election campaign on Sunday