Venezuela Recall Referendum Summary

Lead by Henrique Capriles, the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) launched an official campaign to force a recall referendum against Nicolas Maduro. The referendum process is three stages and could take roughly 8 months. There are many opportunities within that time span for Chavez loyal government agencies to manipulate and/or obstruct the process.

First, to demonstrate that their call for a recall has enough support from the electorate, the law requires signatures from 1% of all registered voters in each of Venezuela’s 23 states within 30 days. 197,978 actual voters total.

The law also requires all votes need to be validated, in person, at CNE state capital offices to confirm their signatures. State capitals may be significant distances for voters to travel, especially when considering lack of transport and abundance of crime.

As of April 29, two (2) days after the initial call, the opposition has collected over 1.2 million signatures.

Second, once the signatures are verified, the CNE requires signatures of 20% of each state’s electorate, 3,959,560 voters total, within a 72-hour period. This set of signatures signifies the electorate officially calling for the referendum and sets the vote in motion.

Third, if all votes from the second phase are validated, then begins 90-day period in which the referendum vote must take place and prove a nation-wide majority supporting the recall, 7,585,579 votes total.

If the referendum happens after Jan. 10, and voters elect to recall Mr. Maduro, his vice president, Aristóbulo Istúriz, would take his place until his term ends in 2019.


  1. So far the response from the people and the large turn out has been positive and demonstrated a sentiment of hope. However, interviews of citizens also show a sense of apprehension as the referendum process is very long and inexpedient.
  2. The government is expected to impede peoples’ ability to gather and give their signatures using the typical tactics of oppression via armed gangs, shutting off electricity/ transport, and threatening to fire public sector employees should they sign.


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