Venezuela's recall referendum process

In March 2016, the opposition began the process, envisaged in Venezuela’s Constitution, to trigger a recall referendum (‘referendum revocatorio’) against President Maduro, and began collecting signatures on 28 April 2016. On 1 August, the CNE declared that the first phase required to convoke the referendum had been fulfilled, but asked that possible irregularities be investigated. On 9 August, CNE President Tibisay Lucena ruled out the possibility of holding the recall referendum in 2016 – within the deadline required to call for new presidential elections. She stated that the CNE’s final decision on the collection of 20 % of signatures would be taken between 14 and 16 September 2016 and, if all requirements were fulfilled, the support necessary to convoke the referendum should be collected by the end of that October. On 20 October, the CNE suspended the collection of signatures in this second phase of the procedure, pointing to an alleged fraud, thereby paralysing the recall referendum process. In a final attempt to re-activate the revocation, on 9 January 2017, the National Assembly convoked a session to debate the alleged ‘abandonment of office’ of President Maduro, on the basis that the Assembly’s majority considered Maduro to be responsible for the crisis in the country.