Venezuelan Opposition to Hold “Plebiscite” on ANC, Vows “Zero Hour” Protests

Venezuela’s right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, unveiled Monday that it will convene a non-binding national “plebiscite” on whether the country should go ahead with National Constituent Assembly elections slated for July 30.

By Lucas Koerner
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Opposition leaders unveiled their plan for a "plebiscite" on Monday. (AVN)
Opposition leaders unveiled their plan for a "plebiscite" on Monday. (AVN)

Caracas, July 4, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, unveiled Monday that it will convene a non-binding national “plebiscite” on whether the country should go ahead with National Constituent Assembly elections slated for July 30.

The plebiscite, known as the “National Agreement on the Constitution”, will include three questions concerning whether the people “reject or recognize the constituent assembly”, “the role demanded of the functionaries and the National Armed Forces in restoring the constitutional order”, and whether the people “back the renovation of public powers, the conformation of a unity government, the holding of free and transparent elections within the constitution”.

The MUD announced in May that it would boycott the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), denouncing it as an illegitimate effort to rewrite the nation’s constitution. Government supporters, in contrast, have hailed the ANC as a opportunity to institutionalize the gains of the revolution over the past 18 years as well as a way to overcome the country’s current political stalemate.  

Scheduled for July 16, the plebiscite has been presented by National Assembly Vice-President and hard-right Popular Will party leader Freddy Guevara as an “act of civil disobedience”. 

Depending on the result of the poll, the MUD will initiate “national zero hour” mobilizations, in which it has vowed to “take to the streets permanently, making use of all of the mechanisms of protest simultaneously to achieve change”. The announcement comes as violent anti-government protests led by the coalition enter their 14th week. At least 99 people have lost their lives since the demonstrations began on April 4. 

While the MUD has specified that the plebiscite will be held without the participation of the National Electoral Council (CNE), it has yet to provide key details concerning how the July 16 vote will be organized and audited. 

Government spokespeople, for their part, slammed the move as unconstitutional.

“They are convening a lie for July 16, a false plebiscite, without it being governed by the branch of public power established in the constitution, which is the Venezuelan Electoral Branch [CNE],” declared Caracas Mayor and Socialist Party leader Jorge Rodriguez.

Articles 71-74 of Venezuela’s constitution allow for binding referenda to approve or revoke laws, recall elected officials, and consult the population on “issues of transcendental national importance”. The Magna Carta does not, however, contain provisions for holding non-binding plebiscites organized independently of the CNE.