After months of delays, Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) has announced that the country's legislative elections will take place on December 6. Candidates will campaign for the National Assembly's 165 seats.
CNE president Tibisay Lucena said on Monday that the election campaign is due to start on November 13, adding that a commission led by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will oversee the entire process.
For weeks, Venezuelan officials have faced increasing pressure from local opposition groups and international observers to set a date for the election.
Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has been on hunger strike for 30 days, demanding the government to set and election date.
The opposition's fragile coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), accused the election authorities of dragging their feet due to waning support for President Nicolas Maduro (pictured above) and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
With Venezuela's economy in recession, oil revenues plunging and consumers facing chronic shortages of basic goods, the opposition's chances are looking bright at the forthcoming election.
According to a survey conducted by polling firm Datanalisis in April, PSUV and their allies pulled in just 25 percent of votes, compared to 45.8 percent for the opposition.
CNE president Tibisay Lucena said Monday's announcement was not the result to demands from the opposition, however.
"We always said that this was an election year, that there would be an election," Lucena said.
"The CNE does not work under pressure. There is a scenario where some small groups who pretend to be political parties intend to impose their will at all costs, pushing the country and promoting neurosis," she said.
The announcement of the election date on Monday came less than a week before the primaries of the ruling PSUV on Sunday.
The December 6 election date will also commemorate the first election of the late President Hugo Chavez, who launched the country's socialist revolution when voters elected him in their masses on December 6, 1998.
ksb/bw (Reuters, AFP)