The MVR was founded in July 1997 to support the electoral aims of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200. For a number of years after his 1994 release from prison, Chávez maintained a position against participation in elections, believing them a fixed game which merely legitimated the established order. This led to a split with his colleague Francisco Arias Cárdenas, who left the MBR-200. In the early years after his release, Chávez considered the possibility of another coup attempt, but with the prospects appearing slim, some advisers, notably Luis Miquilena, urged him to reconsider his scepticism of the elections, arguing that Chávez could potentially win so convincingly that the establishment would not be able to deny him victory. To find out whether this was the case, Chávez set up teams of psychologists, sociologists, university professors and students to carry out a survey. With their support, grassroots members of the Bolivarian movement polled tens of thousands of people across the country. The results showed that 70% of respondents supported Chávez running for the presidency – and 57% said they would vote for him. Support for the electoral route was strengthened when Arias Cárdenas, as a candidate for Radical Cause, won the Governorship of Zulia State in the
December 1995 regional elections. Despite this, the MBR-200 remained divided over electoral participation, and spent a year debating the issue in local, regional and national assemblies. A national congress on 19 April 1997 took from 9 am until 2 am the next day to reach a conclusion, ultimately deciding to launch Chávez' candidacy for the 1998 presidential election. Some members of the movement resigned in protest, holding too much at stake. In July 1997 Chávez registered the new "Fifth Republic Movement" with the National Electoral Council (the name had to be changed as Venezuelan law did not permit parties to use Simon Bolivar's name). The international media took little interest, citing opinion polls showing 8% support for Chávez.