Merida, 30th October 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – “If you want to get rid of me, collect the signatures and we’ll see you in 2016,” said Presdient Nicolas Maduro Tuesday in a statement directed at the opposition.
Maduro was referring to Venezuela’s constitutionally guaranteed right to recall elected officials. Article 72 of the constitution states that, “All magistrates and other offices filled by popular vote are subject to revocation. Once half of the term of office to which an official has been elected has elapsed, a number of voters constituting at least 20% of the voters registered in the pertinent circumscription may extend a petition for the calling of a referendum to revoke such official's mandate.”
Should a majority vote to recall the person, with at least as many voting in favour of the recall as originally voted in favour of the person, and with at least 25% of registered voters participating in the recall election, the person will be removed their position. Only one such petition for recall may be filed per term.
Maduro accused the opposition of wanting to “destabilise the country after the 8 December municipal elections”. He said their mayoral campaigns were based around the idea of “elect me to bring down Maduro” and accused the opposition of planning not to recognise the election results. He argued that the “constitutional method” to get rid of a president is through a recall referendum.
Maduro was speaking at a large general meeting of pro-government mayoral candidates in Caracas. He predicted a “good victory” in the municipal elections.
Jesus Armas, an opposition councillor candidate in Caracas, said the local elections have a “national tinge” because Venezuelans will “go to vote against inflation, scarcity, and the people with connections. Our people know that the municipal elections will be a national plebiscite”.
Further, yesterday Miranda governor and opposition leader Henrique Capriles said that 8 December “is a big opportunity to convert the day into a day of national protest with the vote. We have to punish them”.
In 2004 the opposition collected 2,451,821 valid signatures, just over the 2,436,083 required at the time, to hold a recall referendum against then President Hugo Chavez. 59.1% of voters voted ‘no’ to recalling Chavez on 15 August 2004, with a 30.1% abstention rate.