Venezuela sets December election date

Delays in setting a date had raised concerns the poll could be cancelled.

But the council’s head, Tibisay Lucena, said that was never on the cards and denied the council had bowed to opposition demands.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) of President Nicolas Maduro currently holds a majority of seats.

But recent polls suggest that if the election were held now, the opposition coalition would win in a landslide.

Venezuela’s rampant crime, the drop in oil revenues and chronic shortages of basic goods have hurt President Maduro’s approval ratings.

Ms Lucena announced that the official campaign period would run from 13 November to 3 December.

The opposition coalition – the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) – had accused election officials of dragging their feet because of the governing party’s poor showing in opinion polls.

One of the key demands of the imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, has been that the government set a date for the elections and that they are supervised by international observers.

Ms Lucena said the UNASUR group of counties, which is generally considered to be friendly towards the Venezuelan government, would be allowed to observe the polls.

It is not clear whether Mr Lopez, who has been on hunger strike since May, will now end his protest.

He has been in jail for more than a year, accused of inciting violence during anti-government protests last year in which more 40 people died.

The opposition alleged widespread fraud in the 2013 presidential election in which Mr Maduro claimed a narrow victory. Mr Maduro repeatedly denied the allegations.


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