Maduro impeachment: Coup d’état or will of the people?


Venezuela’s opposition’s attempt at ousting President Maduro from office by gathering signatures for a petition, has been temporarily halted after National Electoral Council casts doubts on the authenticity of signatures.

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People protesting against Maduro’s Government.                                                                          Source: Reuters.

 

Venezuela, the oil-richest country in the world, is once again experiencing political and social turmoil in the awake of the recent economic meltdown. President Maduro has long blamed Western sanctions, particularly by the United States, for the poor economic shape of Venezuela, however, the opposition claims that Maduro’s nationalistic policies have created the financial vacuum and consequently the opposition is pushing for a change in government.

According to Venezuela’s constitution, a plebiscite can be held once a president has served half of his term if certain requirements are met. By October 21st the opposition had successfully initiated the process of issuing a recall referendum by having one percent of voters in each of Venezuela’s 24 states signing a petition. Now the opposition is required to collect signatures from 20 percent of voters in each state to favorably trigger the referendum. The government-controlled National Electoral Council has, however, disdained the result of the first petition on the grounds of alleged electoral fraud.

 

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Path to Referendum vote on Maduro’s presidency.                                     Source: BBC World

 

The invalidation of the petition by the National Electoral Council was received with hostility by the opposition, which has long accused the agency of having a Government-friendly approach to issues that ought to be independently assessed. Henrique Capriles, leader of the opposition, has expressed particular concern regarding the lack of separation between the state institutions and the government in office; “A coup d’état has taken place in Venezuela, it cannot be classified otherwise. It’s time to defend our Constitution. We need to re-establish Constitutional order.”

 

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Henrique Capriles at a press conference in the state of Miranda.                     Source: ImpactoNY

 

President Maduro continuously insists the evaluation of the petition signatures was conducted by independent judges, electoral officials and experts based on technical criteria. He denies having had any influence on the decision to invalidate the petition. Maduro made no secret of his cynical take on the opposition’s attempt at removing him from power: “The revolution will continue to win despite the constant pretensions of the right which is trying to take over power by unconstitutional means” he said while in Saudi Arabia discussing global oil prices.  Members of the Maduro’s Venezuelan Socialist Party, such as Earle Herrera, Deputy of the Council of State, have issued similar statements; “Don’t try to take advantage of these hard times to finish off our nation”

 

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Opposition congressman accusing President Maduro of being a                                              dictator                                                Source: Latin American Post.

 

While the legal stand-off between the government and the opposition is expected to continue in the coming months, the Venezuelan economy, suffering from a staggering 700% inflation rate, is expected to worsen. The electorate is not taking kindly on the government’s lack of action, with recent opinion polls suggesting that 80 percent of Venezuelans would sign the petition to remove Maduro from office. Henrique Capriles remains optimistic about the prospects of having popular opinion behind him:  “They are the 20%! We are the great majority, the 80%! We are millions and we are going to make them feel it!” he wrote on Twitter.

Video related article

Source: The Daily Conversation

Written by: Fiona Catherine Krogh Gerson, Cassandra Bakketeig Thomassen,  Isadora Clough, Sebastían Berko and Pedro Esteban.

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We are a group of five students in our 1st year studying International Relations in Universidad Europea de Madrid. We write in this blog as a part of an assignment in the Observatory of Current Affairs, focusing on the central and south America regions.

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