Next in line

In 2012 many deputy leaders took over from leaders in whose shadows they had been waiting for a long time. Yet wielding power is quite different from acting behind the scenes as a counselor to the president or king. In the majority of cases transition is peaceful and the successor is able to change the path of his or her predecessor through new policies, correcting previous mistakes. In other cases, the successor continues the politics of his or her predecessor with few changes or none at all. In general, deputy leaders are a resource for presidents and prime ministers and monarchs. Choosing a good one – usually defined as one who maintains stability and in some cases improves an already functioning structure – could help the government to do its best to solve problems and to enhance reforms. This has been the case of Cuba since Fidel Castro’s illness put him on the sidelines. Even though the Castro brothers more or less share the same ideological framework, Raul has been able to reform the country by trying to accept the rule of globalization, thus lowering the impact of poverty on the people. However, it is unlikely that the same will happen in Venezuela. The Deputy President Nicolas Maduro, who has temporarily succeeded Hugo Chavez while he undergoes yet another operation for his cancer, does not seem to want to reshape the Bolivarian approach of the president. Unlike the situation in Venezuela, the first woman ruling in Malawi, Joyce Banda, has made a great effort to reaffirm the right to stand before the international community and that of the African people, as she liberalizes her country and tries to fix the ­­inequality that has become entrenched over the years. The case of Saudi Arabia reflects a desire for continuity. The Crown Prince Salman bin-Abdulaziz is more pragmatic than his predecessor, but there is no evidence that he plans to change anything in the kingdom. In many cases, succession is not a change in and of itself.