Venezuela's Assembly Elections
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On Sunday, December 6, 2020, Venezuela will hold elections to choose members of the National Assembly for five-year terms. Since 2015, Venezuela’s political opposition has held a majority in the Assembly, the body from which Juan Guaidó emerged as interim President in January 2019.
This December’s Assembly elections take place against a backdrop of acute restrictions on political freedoms under the regime of Nicolás Maduro. For example, to limit and undermine the National Assembly’s authority, the regime convened elections in 2017 for a parallel Constituent Assembly, elections condemned by over 40 countries in Latin America and around the world. In recent years, leading opposition figures have been summarily prohibited from offering their candidacy, and in 2020, the Venezuelan Supreme Court arbitrarily removed the leadership of opposition parties, substituting others appointed by the government.
Amidst these growing restrictions on democratic space, the opposition has decided not to participate in the December 6 elections, a decision supported by scores of countries who have recognized the interim presidency of Juan Guaidó.
What, then, do these elections mean for the political future of Venezuela? What future strategies are available to the opposition? Will citizens, exhausted by chronic shortages of basic goods and in the midst of a raging pandemic, show up to vote? What will a new Assembly mean for the political future of Juan Guaidó?
Michael A. Penfold
Professor of Political Science, Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) Business and Public Policy School, Venezuela
Margarita Lopez Maya
Professor, Center for Development Studies (CENDES), Universidad Central de Venezuela
Latin American Program
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