Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday urged officials to schedule an election to pick a new constituent assembly for July 30, but an emboldened opposition immediately called for a nationwide sit-in to protest against the move. Maduro on Sunday insisted that electing a new assembly to rewrite the constitution was the only way to end weeks of deadly protests, and turn a corner on Venezuela’s worsening political and economic crisis. In a televised speech he hailed what he said was a record number of people who registered to run as candidates in the vote. “Never has there been such a level of petitions and participation as there is in this case,” Maduro said. However, opponents have called the process a farce. They believe it is skewed to favour Maduro’s leftist authoritarian government, and have promised to boycott the vote.
According to Hugo Perez Hernaiz, a professor of Central University in Caracas, the government has organised the ballot to ensure the future assembly will be pro-Maduro.
Half the seats are reserved for members of so-called “organised movements”, and the other half will give oversized importance to rural areas, where Maduro has stronger support.
“An assembly that favours Maduro would be absurd, since all polls show the president only has about 30 percent support among voters,” Perez Hernaiz said. “But that will likely be the result.”