Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a press conference on 7 February in Caracas
The early presidential election in Venezuela, during which President Nicolas Maduro will seek a new term, will take place on April 22, announced Wednesday the National Electoral Council (CNE).
„The presidential election is convened for April 22, 2018,“ said CNE President Tibisay Lucena in a speech broadcast on Venezuelan state television. The election campaign will take place from April 2nd to 19th.
The announcement came after the failure of negotiations between the government and the opposition on the date of the election.
The delegation of the government and that of the Table of Democratic Unity (MUD), the opposition coalition, had been negotiating for two months in Santo Domingo to try to reach an agreement on several issues including the date of the presidential election and the voting procedures.
The chosen date is not a surprise. In announcing the failure of negotiations between the government and the opposition, Dominican President Danilo Medina said the two sides agreed Tuesday on the date of 22 April.
But the MUD made comments Wednesday on the text, said Medina, and the planned signing could not take place.
Venezuelan President at a campaign rally, February 7, 2018 in Caracas
At a rally of his supporters in Caracas, Maduro blasted MUD’s decision not to sign and claimed that it had been taken on the instructions of the United States.
– ‚Unilateral‘ notice –
In front of the television cameras, he affixed his initials on a copy of the text. „Let the agreement be applied in all its parts I keep my word, I signed,“ he said.
Earlier, the chief negotiator of the MUD, Julio Borges, vainly called on the authorities not to commit the „absurd mistake of unilaterally calling elections“.
Opposition MP Julio Borges, February 7, 2018 after meeting with representatives of the Venezuelan government in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
„Maduro is not the owner of democracy in Venezuela, it is the Venezuelans who are and they must be respected,“ said Borges.
According to him, the observations made by the opposition on the document which it did not finally sign were intended in particular to guarantee „free elections“.
Following the failure of the negotiations, Chile announced in a statement that it was suspending indefinitely its participation in the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.
The Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs „deeply regretted“ the lack of agreement between the two parties. „The minimum conditions for a democratic presidential election and institutional normalization could not be agreed upon,“ he said.
The Chilean ministry emphasized „the need to restore the constitutional democratic order in Venezuela and to deal with the social and humanitarian crisis“ in the country.
Despite a 70% unpopularity rate linked to this severe crisis, characterized by hyperinflation and lack of food and essential drugs, Maduro is likely to be re-elected, analysts say.
– Strong institutional support –
It benefits from strong institutional support, particularly from the military, a strong subsidy policy and the fact that the opposition is divided and weakened.
It has not yet decided whether it will go to the presidential election with a single candidate or with several candidates, and even if it will participate in the vote.
In the current scenario, „it is clearly the victory of Maduro that takes shape,“ said political scientist Francine Jacome. She stressed to AFP that the opposition lacks a real direction, its main leaders, Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles, having been deprived of their civil rights by the power.
On the very day of the announcement of the election date, Maduro launched a new political movement that will support his candidacy.
The president introduced this movement, dubbed Somos Venezuela (We Are Venezuela), at an outdoor rally in Caracas of several thousand of his supporters.
Maduro thus seeks to consolidate his political identity and stand out from his opponents within Chavismo, the doctrine inherited from his predecessor and mentor Hugo Chavez, president from 1999 to his death in 2013.
Maduro’s candidacy for re-election is also supported by Venezuela’s Socialist United Party (PSUV), founded by Hugo Chavez.
„The PSUV is the party of Chavez, Somos Venezuela is that of Maduro,“ summed up an electoral expert, Eugenio Martinez.
„Madurism is emerging.“ Until now, Maduro’s speech focused on the desire to present himself as Chavez’s heir, and he remained attached to the PSUV and all its symbols. political majority, „commented Andres Canizalez, a communications specialist.
In recent months, Mr. Maduro has also multiplied attacks against „traitors“ that exist in the PSUV.