Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called for local elections in Venezuela — but not at the presidential level, which millions in his strife-torn nation are demanding. Maduro in his weekly television address yesterday endorsed voting planned for later this year at the mayoral and gubernatorial level. “Elections — yes, I want elections now,” he said. “That is what I say as the head of state, and as the head of government,” Maduro declared during his broadcast, which aired after three weeks of street protests that have claimed the lives of 20 Venezuelans.
Articles about voting issues in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Venezuela’s move to bar two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles from public office for 15 years looked like an unusually brazen blow at the opposition but is just the logical extension of a strategy that has emerged as the last, best hope of President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialists for maintaining power. A nearly identical maneuver was used ten years ago to halt the rise of former mayor Leopoldo Lopez, who in polls remains one of the most influential opposition leaders despite being jailed three years ago for his role in anti-government protests. The situation suggests the Socialists may continue to lean on Comptroller Manuel Galindo, accused by the opposition of being a government puppet, to clear the playing field of potential challengers. The election, still unscheduled, must be held by the end of 2018.
In a move rejected throughout the region and decried as a “coup” by the opposition, Venezuela’s Supreme Court effectively shut down congress, saying it would assume all legislative functions amid its contention that legislators are operating outside of the law. The decision will undoubtedly increase tensions in the South American nation where the opposition-controlled congress was seen as a last bastion of dissent. The move is also a slap at the international community, which just this week was pressing the socialist administration to respect the role of the legislature and to hold new elections. As news spread about the ruling, condemnation was swift. Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro said it was tantamount to a “self-inflicted coup” and called for an emergency meeting of the permanent council. Peru broke off diplomatic relations, and the United States, Mexico and Colombia condemned the move.
The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and his allies triumphed nearly every time voters went to the ballot box. But Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, appears to have lost interest in testing the will of the people. Amid a severe economic crisis, opinion polls show that support for Maduro and for ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) politicians is collapsing. In response, electoral authorities — whom analysts claim take orders from the executive branch — have over the past year shelved or delayed elections large and small.
Venezuela’s Congress on Sunday declared that the government had staged a coup by blocking a drive to recall President Nicolas Maduro in a raucous legislative session that was interrupted when his supporters stormed the chamber. Opposition lawmakers vowed to put Maduro on trial after a court friendly to his socialist administration on Thursday suspended their campaign to collect signatures to hold a referendum on removing the deeply-unpopular president. Lawmaker Julio Borges said the opposition-led congress is now in open rebellion after a majority of its members voted that the decision constituted a coup with government participation. “We will bring a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro to get to the bottom of his role in the break with democracy and human rights here,” Borges said.
Leaders of Venezuela’s opposition on Friday angrily called on citizens to take to the streets after the country’s electoral commission suspended a drive for a referendum to remove President Nicolás Maduro. Speaking to a packed news conference, Henrique Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate, described the commission’s decision as a “coup” intended to keep Mr. Maduro in power. “We warned that this could happen, and this is exactly what we wanted to avoid with the referendum,” Mr. Capriles said. “This only deepens the crisis that Venezuelans are living through.” The battle over the recall movement appeared to escalate the conflict between the opposition and Mr. Maduro’s leftist government. Although the opposition controls the country’s congress, Mr. Maduro and his allies dominate all the other institutions of government, including the courts and the electoral commission. Mr. Maduro, blamed by many Venezuelans for the country’s economic collapse, has described the recall effort as a coup attempt.
Election officials on Wednesday quashed the opposition’s hope of holding a recall referendum that could wrest Venezuela’s presidency from the ruling socialist party. Officials said a national vote on removing President Nicolas Maduro could take place if the opposition gathers enough signatures over the course of three days at the end of October, but add that a referendum would be held in the first quarter of 2017. That timing is crucial. A successful vote to oust Maduro this year would trigger a presidential election and give the opposition a shot at winning power. If Maduro were to be voted out in 2017, though, his vice president would finish the presidential term, leaving the socialists in charge. With Venezuela’s economy in crisis, with soaring inflation and widespread shortages, polls say a majority of Venezuelans want Maduro gone.
Venezuela: Huge crowds march in Venezuela to force recall of President Nicolás Maduro | The Washington Post
Tens of thousands of chanting protesters marched Thursday in a major demonstration in the Venezuelan capital aimed at forcing a vote on recalling socialist President Nicolás Maduro. Opposition parties hailed the protest, dubbed the “Taking of Caracas,” as the beginning of a new stage in their struggle to end the “revolution” started in 1999 by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Maduro’s popularity has plunged as the economy of this oil-rich country has sharply contracted and hunger has grown widespread. The government, clearly nervous, arrested several prominent opposition activists in the days leading up to the protest and barred at least six foreign journalists from entering the country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Fearing violence, downtown shops closed, and police in yellow vests took up positions around the city. But the demonstration had an upbeat note, with participants dancing and joking, even as their chants reflected growing frustration with the government. “There’s no eggs, there’s no chicken, there’s nothing here,” one group yelled. Others shouted: “It’s going to fall, it’s going to fall, the government is going to fall.”
Venezuela’s opposition got a green light Monday to proceed with efforts to remove President Nicolas Maduro in a referendum, but the crumpling oil giant still appeared far from holding a vote. The National Electoral Council (CNE) said the opposition had collected nearly double the requirement of 200,000 valid signatures on a petition demanding the leftist leader face a recall referendum. But it did not set a date for the next stage in the lengthy process, in which the opposition must collect four million signatures in just three days. And, in a boost to the Maduro camp’s claims of rampant fraud, the council’s chief, Tibisay Lucena, said the authorities had detected more than 1,000 apparently fraudulent signatures. The opposition blames Maduro for an economic implosion that has seen severe food shortages, hyperinflation, violence and looting erupt in Venezuela, a once-booming country that is home to the world’s largest oil reserves.
Venezuela’s election board said on Monday the opposition successfully collected 1 percent of voter signatures in every state in the first phase of their push for a referendum to recall socialist President Nicolas Maduro. But council head Tibisay Lucena asked for a judicial probe into some apparent cases of voter identity fraud, and did not name a date for the next phase, to collect 20 percent of signatures. The timing is crucial because if Maduro were to lose a referendum this year, as polls indicate he would due to an economic crisis, that would trigger a new presidential vote, giving the opposition a chance to end 17 years of socialism. But should he lose a referendum next year, Maduro, 53, would be replaced by his vice president, maintaining the Socialist Party in power until the OPEC nation’s next presidential election scheduled for the end of 2018.