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.
Critics of Venezuela’s 17-year left-wing administration have made the recall their central political issue. The opposition staged its largest street demonstration in years Sept. 1 with a rally in Caracas demanding a referendum against Maduro be held in 2016.
The spokesman for the opposition coalition, Jesus Torrealba, said at a news conference Wednesday night that the opposition would continue to demand a recall vote this year. “The government is scared to face the people in elections, in the street, in any civic arena,” he said.
Socialist party leaders have been saying all along that any recall vote would not take place this year.
Full Article: Venezuela officials deny opposition a recall vote in 2016.