Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Maduro won't be able to harness "Chavismo" as Chavez did so successfully, but she expects him to win any upcoming presidential vote.
"There's really no one who can step into those shoes," she said.
The next administration must also control a ballooning public debt that has quadrupled to $102 billion since Chavez took office in 1999, despite Venezuela's booming oil exports
Maduro's Jekyll-and-Hyde-like behavior Tuesday has stoked worries about a future government.
He used a speech just before Chavez's death to lash out at the United States and internal opponents he accused of plotting to destabilize the government. He pointed to shadowy forces as being behind the president's cancer and expelled two American military attaches he charged with spying.
In a speech later announcing the death, a shaken and somber Maduro called for peace, love and reconciliation among all Venezuelans.
Many mourners at Wednesday's procession took their cue from the more virulent Maduro speech, venting anger at Washington and accusing Venezuela's opposition of conspiring with far-right U.S. forces to undermine the revolution.