Caracas, April 29th 2016 (Venezuelanalysis) - Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski has claimed that the rightwing Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition has collected more than 1.5 million signatures in support of a recall referendum against incumbent president Nicolas Maduro.
“Good morning, at 7.30am we will be in the CNE (National Electoral Council). We already have 1.500.000+ signatures. We will give more details! For now, they aren’t necessary!,” tweeted the former presidential candidate.
The MUD officially began collecting signatures in support of a referendum on Wednesday. According to CNE rules, the political coalition has 30 days to garner backing from 1% of the electorate in every state, amounting to 195,721 signatures nationwide.
But MUD spokespeople reported that they had surpassed this figure just hours after opening signature collection stalls, and social media and television reports depict thousands of Venezuelans heading to public squares and other collection points to sign against Maduro.
Many cite the country’s worsening economic crisis and increasing insecurity as their reasons for signing, while others are longterm opponents of the leftist Bolivarian revolution.
For its part, the government has cited the referendum as part of an ongoing ‘unconventional war” against it.
President Nicolas Maduro stated on Thursday night that the opposition did not have what it takes to govern the country in the face of the economic crisis.
“Can you imagine one of those bourgeois having to deal with this? They’d be on the floor crying, asking Obama for help!,” he said on national television.
The activation of the steps towards a recall referendum means the country is looking at an uncertain future, as well as months of mobilisations on the nation’s streets.
Once all signatures collected in this initial stage have been verified by the CNE, the MUD will have 72 hours to get 20% of the electorate to sign a petition in support of the recall referendum. If successful, the national plebiscite will be organised within 90 days.
Maduro won Venezuela’s 2013 national elections by a knife edge against Henrique Capriles Radonski, with 7,587,579 (50.6%) votes to 7,363,980 (49.1%).
But popular support for the revolution has steadily dropped over the last three years.
In last December’s legislative elections, the opposition managed to increase its total number of national votes to 7,728,025, while the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s electoral share dropped to 5625,248.
In order to remove Maduro in a potential recall referendum, a number equal to or greater than 7,587,579 will have to vote for his dismissal.