October Surprise: Recall Process Against Maduro Moves Forward In Venezuela

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro moved closer to recall Tuesday when Tibisay Lucena, President of the National Electoral Council (CNE) said the opposition can “likely” get enough signatures for a recall by October.

The CNE statement comes just over a week after the electoral authority announced that it had completed the first step of the recall process, in which it validated one percent of voters’ signatures collected. Venezuela’s opposition must now gather four million signatures in three days, which amounts to 20 percent of the country’s electorate.

Opposition leaders fear that the government might push back a potential recall election (currently on track for October) into next year as a result of the required signature gathering. The difference between having a recall election in 2016 and 2017 is that, if Maduro is ousted next year, his fellow socialist vice-president would take over as president rather than an opposition leader.

Lucena elaborated during her announcement that the CNE would ultimately decide the dates of the October signature collection process between 14 and 16 September. Counting and verifying the millions of signatures will take a month alone.

After the month-long petition verification process is complete, if there are sufficient numbers of approved signatures, then the CNE must schedule a recall election within 90 days afterwards. Opposition leadership accused the socialist government of deliberately taking its time with the process in order to prevent opposition victory.

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