A coalition of over two dozen parties, all backing opposition figurehead Juan Guaido, have announced they will not take part in the upcoming parliamentary vote in December, claiming any outcome is “electoral fraud” by default.
Although the election will not be held for five months, on December 6, the bloc has already denounced it as fraudulent, arguing that the electoral system itself is unfair. The coalition at the same time rejected the notion that they are abstaining from the vote, arguing that it was “not an election” in which they have refused to participate.
The statement, which was signed by 26 parties comprising the coalition, accuses government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of cracking down on deputies and of having the Supreme Court appoint members of the electoral board who favor Caracas.
The parties also claim that the government violated the constitution by increasing the total number of deputies from the current 167 to 277.
The coalition claims that they represent “the voice of the vast majority of the people of Venezuela,” calling on the international community to denounce the election as a fraud.
While critics have accused Guaido of foregoing an election so he can claim that he still commands broad support among those opposing Maduro, there is not even consensus on who leads the National Assembly in the country, plagued by a political crisis exacerbated by biting US sanctions.
Guaido, who declared himself ‘interim president’ in early 2019, while being the leader of the opposition-led National Assembly, was ousted as the head of the legislature in January in a vote by fellow MPs. Guaido claimed that he was barred from entering the assembly, with a dramatic video showing him climbing a fence to get into the parliament. However, other footage showed that Guaido himself effectively refused to enter the building, unless several other MPs, stripped of parliamentary immunity, were allowed in. Subsequently, Guaido convened his own “national assembly” at the headquarters of El Nacional newspaper, with its members electing him “leader” of the parallel structure.
While the Venezuelan Supreme Court ratified another opposition lawmaker, Luis Parra, as the head of the National Assembly in May, the US and its allies as well as the EU still back Guaido as the congressional president despite his push for regime change somewhat losing momentum.
Despite the West’s continuous support of Guaido, Maduro has managed to withstand every US-backed attempt to overthrow him so far, including the failed military coup by Guaido supporters in April 2019, as well as sanctions on oil exports and the seizure of Venezuelan gold and oil assets. In May, a group of militants led by two Americans attempted to infiltrate Venezuela and kidnap Maduro. While there have been documents leaked to the media that appear to link Guaido to the group, the opposition leader has denied the Maduro government’s accusations of being the mastermind behind the op.