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Venezuela - 2018 - Election

Venezuela’s presidential election, which was set to be held on April 22, was pushed back to the second half of May by the country’s electoral body. The National Electoral Council (CNE) announced the postponement in a statement 29 March 2018 but did not give a precise date for the election, in which President Nicolas Maduro will seek a second six-year term. Elections for Venezuela’s regional governments will take place at the same time, the CNE said. “It is proposed that the elections for president be held simultaneously” with elections for regional legislations “in the second half of May 2018.” It said the proposal to postpone the presidential poll had been agreed by the government and the opposition candidate Henri Falcon.

President Nicolas Maduro said he is ready to seek re-election after his allies pushed forward voting in a move widely seen as a bid to capitalize on disarray in the Venezuelan opposition and consolidate power amid a freefalling economy. Maduro's comment came soon after the pro-government constitutional assembly ordered the presidential election be held by the end of April — months ahead of when the country's presidential voting has traditionally taken place.

On 30 November 2017, Venezuelan Vice President Tariq al-Issami said that President Nicolas Maduro would seek a second term in the 2018 election. According to El País newspaper, Venezuela's presidential election was scheduled for December 2018, but the elections were expected to take place earlier in the year.

At the end of 2017, Nicolas Maduro emerged as the clear victor, not only in the power struggle in his own country but also compared to most other heads of state in Latin America. His popularity ratings were higher than those of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, in neighboring Colombia. The Venezuelan parliament had been disempowered, the separation of powers abolished in favor of a hand-picked, all-powerful "Constituent Assembly," and the opposition was divided. Maduro had moved well beyond mere populism; he no longer needed to worry about re-election in 2018.

Venezuela's 2018 presidential election comes on the heels of a Bolivarian Revolution tour-de-force. Internal dissent, a deadly beat which saw the likes of Orlando Jose Figuera burned alive on a public street for simply “being Chavista,” was quelled by the government and its supporters. Peace negotiations with the opposition were moving forward and have been supported by several governments.

Loyalists to the legacy left by Hugo Chavez dominated the National Constituent Assembly, ANC, elections in July. The same occured in the gubernatorial elections in October and, more recently, municipal elections this month. Needless to say, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV, dominated at the ballot box in all cases. Neither external threats of intervention headed by U.S. President Donald Trump nor sanctions have bullied the populace to surrender "the helms of self-determination and popular democracy".

Although official candidates of the people have yet to be announced, a potential runner is ANC President, Delcy Rodriguez. Some observe that her candidacy will be strengthened if the economy improves during her leadership of the government body.

Whereas mainstream media portrayed the ANC election as a tool to convert Venezuela into a "dictatorship," Don Kovalik, a U.S. human rights and labor lawyer, invited by the National Electoral Council to assist the ANC voting process, said the institution “opens the possibility for greater democracy.” He added that the 545 elected delegates “represent various sectors of the population,” including, but not limited to, Indigenous people, students, women, disabled people, workers and Afro-Venezuelans.

And while the U.S. State Department deemed the ANC an “illegitimate product of a flawed process,” few were impressed, lesser distracted, by its peddling of a worn out “democracy” card having seated a president who garnered second place in the popular vote and installed by an elitist electoral college.

Venezuela's main opposition alliance, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), announced that it would boycott the election, although one of its high profile members, Henri Falcon, has indicated his intention to run. Another potential presidential candidate was Venezuela's chief prosecutor, Tareck El Aissami, and, of course, having only served one term, current President Nicolas Maduro, the former bus driver who previously served as foreign minister.

The Organization of American States (OAS) urged Venezuela to cancel the April 22 presidential election, citing a lack of transparency in the polls. In a resolution, a majority of OAS members pressed the Venezuelan government to carry out elections through a "fair, transparent, legitimate and credible" process, in which all political parties and candidates could participate.

On 23 February 2018 the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela ruled out the possibility of carrying out legislative, state and municipal elections, in conjunction with the scheduled presidential elections on April 22, as President Maduro had proposed. Tibisay Lucena, the president of the CNE, signaled that the parliamentary elections, which are slated for 2020, could take place sooner. "The CNE will evaluate the upcoming date of the parliamentary, legislative council and municipal elections," she said.

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