Venezuela's Opposition Readies New Election Push

By Colm Quinn

"The deck isn’t stacked against the opposition, there is no deck for the opposition to play with," said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to Foreign Policy.

Venezuelans go to the polls on Sunday for local and regional elections, with the country’s opposition hoping to make inroads. It’s the first time since 2017 that opposition groups will compete against President Nicolás Maduro’s United Socialist Party, indicating a shift in the opposition’s previous boycott tactics.

In another unusual turn, the European Union will send observers for Sunday’s vote, the first time the bloc has sent a delegation to monitor elections in the country in 15 years. They, along with the United Nations and the U.S.-based Carter Center, will assess whether the elections are free and fair.

For Eric Farnsworth, a Latin America expert at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) the vote itself is only one side of the story. “There’s no election observer who could conceivably come out and say that this was a free and fair election, based on all of the structural advantages that have been built in over the years by the PSUV,” Farnsworth told Foreign Policy, referring to the acronym for the ruling United Socialist Party. Criticisms of the electoral system include a National Electoral Council deemed loyal to Maduro as well as other repressive moves against opposition party leadership last year.

“The deck isn’t stacked against the opposition, there is no deck for the opposition to play with,” Farnsworth added…

But it’s not just the United States that needs to engage with Venezuela, where a deteriorating economy has caused a widespread exodus of citizens to neighboring states. “The one thing I would like to see is much more Latin American voices in this space. But they’re just not showing up,” AS/COA’s Farnsworth said. “And so then, it comes back to the United States. And that’s not fair necessarily, because that’s not where we want to be, but we’re forced into that role because nobody else is taking leadership.”…

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