Voting in an opposition-sponsored referendum in Venezuela is set to end today.
The referendum was organised by National Assembly President Juan Guaido as a response to the legislative elections held last Sunday, which were boycotted by the opposition and led to government control of the Assembly. The opposition hopes that a higher turnout in the referendum than in the elections, which registered a low 31% turnout, will re-ignite the movement to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power.
The referendum has no legal standing and its purpose is mostly for show as it gives the opposition an opportunity to channel the country’s displeasure with Maduro’s leadership. Nevertheless, Maduro will move to consolidate control and further hinder the opposition’s attempts to remove him from office.
Expect the referendum to show higher turnout than the elections though Maduro is likely to dismiss its result. The opposition will now solely depend on international support, especially from the US, to maintain its legitimacy. It is likely that the opposition could further divide given that it has lost its control of the Assembly. Expect the opposition to return to street marches and to push for more sanctions on the Maduro regime.
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James is an analyst on the Current Developments Team, where he specialises in European and Indian politics. He is a regularly contributor to the Daily Brief