With Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in Cuba for his fourth cancer surgery in two years and after naming Vice President and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his successor if anything were to go wrong, the Constitution of the country contemplates several options, including new elections.
In the absolute absence of the president: resignation, removal, mental or physical incapacity, abandoning the post, revocation of the mandate or death, the constitution describes the situation in three articles, 233, 234 and 235.
Article 233 says that if the absolute absence of the elected president occurs before he takes the oath of office (next January 10), a new election will take place in the following consecutive thirty days. While the new leader is elected and takes office, the Executive will be in the hands of the National Assembly president. In this case Diosdado Cabello a strong figure in President Chavez entourage but hard liner and less flexible than Maduro.
When the absolute absence of the president occurs in the first four years of the constitutional mandate, there will a presidential election in the following thirty days. The Executive will then pass on to the hands of the Vice President until the new president is elected.
In both cases the new elected president will complete the six years of the original mandate beginning January 10.
If the absence occurs in the last two years of the six year mandate, the Vice President will take over the Executive office and complete the mandate.
Finally the temporary absences of the president will be covered by the Vice president for no longer than 90 days, extendable for another 90 days with the approval from the National Assembly and for an only one time. However “if the temporary absence goes beyond the consecutive ninety days, the National Assembly is empowered to hold a vote and by a majority vote can decide if it is an absolute absence.