Caracas, May 3, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s right-wing opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), turned over 1.85 million signatures in support of a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro to the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Monday.
As part of the initial requirement to solicit a recall, the MUD was given 30 days to collect signatures from 1 percent of the electorate in each of the 23 states– 197,721 total signatures nationwide– a target which the coalition managed to surpass in a matter of days, accruing as many as 2.5 million overall.
However, despite submitting the signatures to the CNE on Monday, the MUD was informed that it would have to wait the full 30 day period before the biometric verification process could begin.
“The 30 day period set for the collection of 1% of signatures must be completed before starting the verification phase,” announced CNE Rector Tania D’Amelio via her official Twitter account on Sunday.
The statement by the electoral official was met with a barrage of criticism by opposition leaders, who disparaged the move as a delaying tactic allegedly aimed at preventing the referendum from being held this year.
“No one doubts that CNE Rector Tania D’Amelio is a stalwart member of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) and is proceeding to impede a recall referendum this year,” declared right-wing National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup, who offered no evidence to back his claim.
Freddy Guevara, a legislator with Leopoldo Lopez’s far right Popular Will party, responded to the announcement by publishing a call to “popular mobilization” on his Facebook page in the event that the CNE does not validate the signatures by Saturday, five days after their initial submission.
Once the CNE completes the verification process for the recall request, the body will set a 72-hour period for the MUD to collect the signatures of 20% of the electorate as specified by the Constitution, which amounts to nearly 4 million signatures in total.
If the opposition reaches the target and no errors or forgeries are detected, the CNE will be obliged to schedule a recall referendum within the next 90 days.
In order for the MUD to successfully revoke the president’s mandate and trigger new presidential elections, it must garner equal or greater votes for the recall than President Maduro received in 2013– 7,587,579 votes.
If the referendum is not held by the close of this year, a successful recall vote will oust the sitting president but will not trigger new presidential elections, allowing the vice-president to serve out the rest of the president’s term.