Venezuela: Political Parties, Interest Groups Sign Electoral Agreement

Electoral authorities are expected to announce this year's presidential election calendar by the end of March.
electoral agreement AN
The recently signed document laying down electoral conditions is set to replace the Barbados Agreement, according to Caracas. (@Asamblea_Ven / X)

Caracas, February 29, 2024 ( – Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) President Jorge Rodríguez announced that the nationwide dialogue process to craft an electoral schedule had yielded an agreement endorsed by all participating parties.

Signed by 152 representatives from diverse sectors of Venezuelan society, the document proposes 27 potential dates for this year’s presidential vote and will be formally presented to the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Friday for its review. The electoral authorities are expected to announce an electoral calendar by the end of March.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Rodríguez said the agreement also gathered around 500 proposals on issues regarding broad aspects of the upcoming electoral process, which contain electoral guarantees for all political parties, equal opportunities for campaigning in national television and social media channels, updating the electoral registry, and inviting international observers as long as they comply with Venezuelan laws and Constitution.

In the document, the signatories committed to defending national and territorial sovereignty, including the Essequibo region, rejecting US-led sanctions against Venezuela and any other form of foreign aggression, as well as respecting Venezuelan institutions and nullifying parallel ones illegally set up by far-right factions based abroad.

The proposals were submitted during nine rounds of talks held since early February between diverse political organizations, among them over 40 opposition parties, and economic, social, student, cultural, religious and women’s groups. 

“We have built a document of national consensus, we have agreed on the defense of sovereignty and peace and to recognize the electoral results,” said Rodríguez in his press conference.

The National Assembly leader, who also heads the government delegation in the dialogue process with the US-backed Unitary Platform, emphasized that the agreement replaces the October 2023 Barbados Agreement as it incorporates a wider spectrum of political and popular sectors.

“We have established a permanent dialogue table,” explained Rodríguez indicating that the discussions would progress to address legislative elections scheduled for 2025.

Although not participating directly in the meetings to draft the electoral agreement, the hardline opposition met with the Maduro government delegation on February 19 and discussions reportedly included negotiations on the election calendar. 

The Unitary Platform was not present in Wednesday’s ceremony and did not sign the agreement. According to chief negotiator Gerardo Blyde, the opposition alliance also informed the government it had presented a list of alleged violations of the Barbados Agreement to Norwegian mediators.

The most significant violation, according to Blyde’s camp, was the ratification of far-right opposition leader María Corina Machado’s political disqualification. Machado was the winner of the opposition’s internal primaries in October, though the process was mired in controversy and had its results suspended by the Supreme Court.

Caracas has maintained that the Barbados Agreement stipulated that potential candidates are only eligible to participate if they adhere to the Venezuelan Constitution and laws. Both sides later agreed to implement an appeal mechanism for banned candidates, which resulted in several favorable rulings.

In Machado’s case, the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) rejected her challenge against a 15-year disqualification from holding public office. The reasons cited were her alleged participation in corruption schemes, the hardline opposition’s actions endangering Venezuelan foreign assets, and support for US-led sanctions.

Despite their outspoken support for the far-right leader, the Unitary Platform —formed by four opposition parties, not including Machado’s Vente Venezuela— has remained engaged in talks with the Maduro government with several meetings reportedly taking place on Venezuelan soil since last October. The anti-government alliance has vowed to remain on the electoral path but has not disclosed whether it will back a different candidate.

For its part, Washington has thrown its backing behind Machado. After her ban was upheld, the Biden administration scaled up its economic measures against the Caribbean nation, with the US Treasury Department revoking a license authorizing dealings with Venezuela’s mining sector.

The White House has likewise pledged to reimpose sanctions on the oil and gas industry once an existing license expires in April. Caracas has rejected these threats, focusing instead on the national dialogue for the electoral process and strengthening alliances with other partners to shore up the oil industry.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Lisbon, Portugal.