Friday, June 17, 2016

Venezuela: My op-ed in Foreign Affairs on the challenges facing the Presidential recall

Here is my article on the difficulties that the opposition will face in recalling President Nicolas Maduro. Much of the article is about the recent history and use of the recall across the globe, but here's a some key points about Venezuela in particular:

  • The country has two turnout requirements -- the votes against Maduro must top his 7,587,579 that he received in his last election and 25% of registered voters must come out to vote (the second is not really an issue in this recall).
  • Turnout requirements (I like to think of them as an absentee veto) are unusual in the US, but not elsewhere. Romanian President Traian Basescu survived two recalls based on the turnout hurdle. 
  • Maduro's best bet may be to suppress the vote -- he could push his supporters not to show up, he could make voting hard (we've seen this a lot in the US) or his supporters could take a more aggressive stance, like rioting, which may drive down turnout.
  • If the recall is held in 2017, Maduro's successor will be his VP. This is not that unusual a provision. Oregon doesn't have a replacement vote either and neither does Michigan's Governor. Of course, Venezuela only has a very short window for a recall to take place (basically just one year). Maduro has numerous options to try and delay the vote. We see this type of behavior all the time in the US. It would definitely not be a surprise if Maduro is successful in pushing off the recall till 2017.

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