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Venezuela - 2018 - Election

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 is scheduled for December 2018, but the elections are 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.

Another potential presidential candidate is 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.

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