First stage recall petition gains nearly two million signatures


The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) has submitted 80 boxes of petitions to the National Electoral Council (CNE). Each box contained 2,500 forms to give a total of around 1,850,000 signatures seeking a recall referendum to cut the term of President Nicolás Maduro.

The opposition had thirty days to gather the signatures but apparently passed the 197,978 or 1% of the electorate requirement within hours of the opening of signature stalls. The CNE will now verify the signatures and once this is completed the opposition will have to go through the whole procedure again to collect 20% or 3,959,560 signatures, but this time within 72 hours. They have to cross a further hurdle in that the CNE requires 20% from each state’s electorate.

If that is completed successfully then the CNE will be obliged to call a recall referendum within 90 days. For the referendum to succeed the vote in favour of a recall must exceed the 7,587,579 votes Maduro received in the April 2013 presidential election.

The danger for the opposition in this tactic to get rid of President Maduro is that if the referendum takes place after 10th January 2017 and Maduro is recalled then his Vice-President, Aristóbulo Istúriz, would take over until the end of the presidential term in 2019. Before that date the opposition can call for a fresh presidential election.

Meanwhile the president announced a 35% increase in the minimum wage on Sunday. A further 300,000 families have been promised food and medicine subsidies. It is unclear where the money will come from to pay for the increase and past increases have not been fully honoured. There is also a chronic shortage of medicines and food staples across the country.

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