The Venezuelan government is moving ahead with its bid to all but revamp the constituent assembly, making it more pliant to its own needs while the opposition party is determined to ensure that this does not materialize at any cost. After several months of protests and political instability, it appears that patience has worn thin now, leading to violent demonstrations in many locations across the country.
Government ban fails to stop protesters
The government did take measures to ensure that the proceedings would go on smoothly but the protesters took to the streets despite a government ban. The opposition party's claim that the government is making a bid to take over the country has irked the public and prompted them to make their displeasure felt in no uncertain terms. The government's call for a completely new constituent assembly added to its call for powers to override congress are only adding strength to the opposition's accusations against them. Meanwhile, the opposition is boycotting the vote.
President Maduro's stance is that this is the most effective solution to restore a semblance of normalcy to the country after the face-off between the government and the opposition has derailed key decisions. The challenges in the Venezuelan political scenario are many and most of them are underpinned by the fact that the opposition controls the National Assembly.
Opposition calls for more protests
The protests have turned violent in many places and there have been reports of loss of life as well, but this does not appear to be stopping the opposition from continuing its critique of the government move. Speaking for his party, Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader reiterated that his party believed this election was a 'fraudulent process'. He called for the protests to continue. Reports indicate that a candidate standing in the election has also been shot, although this news has not yet been verified. The election timing has been extended to allow all to vote but clashes have been continuing, particularly in areas where the opposition is stronger than the ruling party.
While there is little doubt that Maduro will indeed win this bout, it is also clear that the win can be attributed solely to the boycott of the elections by the opposition and the use of riot police in cities to keep the situation tightly under control. Post-election, Maduro will not find it as easy to carry on governing the country given the underlying issues that have come to fore now.