Venezuela Electoral Council Sets High Bar for Maduro Vote

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CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela's national electoral council has scheduled a decisive phase in the referendum process against embattled President Nicolá s Maduro with conditions that make it highly unlikely his opponents will be able to change the government.

The opposition alliance will need to collect 20% of all voter signatures in each state over 24 hours split over three days staring October 26, the electoral council's director, Emilio Rondon, told reporters Wednesday. Observers of the country's politics have said that an insufficient number of polling booths and the timing, which was widely expected, make it very difficult to meet the goal.

The ruling-party dominated council, known as CNE, has approved only 5,392 voting centers for 19 million registered voters. The polling booths will be particularly scarce in the remote states in the country's jungle and savanna regions.

Even if the opposition manages to collect 20% of the votes by state, CNE's internal timetable makes it almost impossible to hold the actual referendum this year.

If the vote is held next year and Mr. Maduro loses, which recent polls predict, a vice president of his choosing would serve out his term ending in 2019, likely ensuring the continuation of price and currency controls that economists blame for the country's economic collapse. If it is held this year and Mr. Maduro loses, the electoral council would call new elections, which polls show would result in a landslide opposition victory.

Write to Anatoly Kurmanaev at Anatoly.kurmanaev@wsj.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  09-21-162305ET
  Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.



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