Venezuela’s embattled opposition prepares for primary elections this Sunday in the hope that they can make gains in the upcoming regional elections.
“We will have elections in … 977 polling places in these 19 states, a total of 3,110 precincts. They are equipped for voting in these upcoming elections, (and) 14,835,864 registered voters are invited to participate,” Francisco Castro, the head of the primaries committee, said at a press conference this week.
Primaries will be held in 19 of Venezuela’s 21 states, with the states of Vargas and Carabobo having already decided their candidates.
Castro added that the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) has already agreed on “the security mechanisms so that the election may occur in peace,” and expressed their hope that “no violent activity will be promoted by the government” of dictator Nicolás Maduro.
However, the elections, which are scheduled to take place in December to elect state governors and state legislators, have been consistently delayed by the socialist government, who fear that they will experience severe losses given the country’s current economic predicament.
“Holding elections is not the priority,” Maduro was quoted as saying in August.” Venezuela’s priority is to recover the economy.”
The MUD operates as an electoral coalition of Venezuelan political parties unified against Maduro’s socialist government, with parties from all sides of the political spectrum. The group was initially formed in 2008 to oppose the late President Hugo Chávez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the 2010 parliamentary election.
Some of the group’s leaders include the imprisoned Popular Will party leader Leopoldo López, Governor of Miranda Henrique Capriles Radonski, and the former Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma.
However, the opposition coalition has also become increasingly unpopular amongst its supporters for their failure to prevent Maduro’s recent power grab—the creation of a “national constituents assembly,” (ANC) a fraudulent lawmaking body tasked with rewriting the nation’s constitution. Maduro has illicitly given the ANC the powers of the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly, effectively rendering the country a dictatorship.
A recent report by the United Nations found that the regime had also committed “extensive” and widespread repression of rights across Venezuela amid a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that has left millions starving and thousands dead.
“OHCHR’s findings detailed in this report point to an increasingly critical human rights situation since the protests began, with mounting levels of repression of political dissent by national security forces, and increasing stigmatization and persecution of people perceived as opposing the Government of President Maduro,” the report stated.