The original electoral date was arranged for December 2018, but it was pulled ahead to 22 April 2018 and then delayed for additional weeks until May. The decision was taken by critics of the government as an attempt to steamroll the divided opposition coalition and throw it into chaos.
The current President Nicolás Maduro is running for another six-year term after more than a year of crackdowns against adversaries that have included jailing political rivals and using force to put down demonstrations.
Opposition’s politicians doubt authorities will allow a free and fair vote, given the exclusion of some opposition figures from running plus abuse of state resources in campaigning.
Moreover, the main coalition from the opposition has decided to not participate arguing the regime is not respecting ‘ the right to vote, the right to choose or the will of every Venezuelan, said Juan Pablo Guanipa, a top politician in the Primero Justicia party.
The election comes amid an ever-worsening economic and political crisis which has left many Venezuelans malnourished and led hundreds of thousands to flee the country.
Ireland has been one of the countries that have welcome thousands of Venezuelans since 2013. Some of them are active members of the Venezuelan Community established in 2017. They follow what is going on in the country daily and express their views about the elections.
Marisabel de Castro is one of these, she has lived in Ireland for 4 years and has participated in the previous elections carried out in Venezuela. However, this time she is convinced that her vote ‘would not change anything’ considering that the country is under a ‘dictatorship’. ‘The opposition leaders are calling to not vote, so I think we should be together on this, believe in them and do not attend to the polls’ she emphasized.
Ariana Loyo is another Venezuelan in Ireland who left the country seeking a better quality of life. She doubts the election will be fair. ‘The most recent elections for a constituent assembly in the country showed the clear violation of the Venezuelan Constitution. There is a lack of independence of the National Electoral Council, so I will not participate’.
Stephano Galeta is one more who has lived in Ireland since 2017; he would participate if only the process would count on a ‘third party’ or international observers who can guarantee reliable and truthful results. ‘The most recent election showed how the government used its power to manipulate results’.