CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan opposition parties announced on Tuesday that they will run in regional and municipal elections scheduled for November, reversing their previous stance of boycotting recent votes.
The announcement came days before the opposition and government of President Nicolás Maduro are expected to meet in Mexico City to continue negotiations on finding a common way out of Venezuela’s political deadlock. Both sides agreed to discuss election issues as part of the dialogue, which officially began earlier this month.
The regional and municipal elections are scheduled for November 21.
The opposition parties, grouped in the so-called Unitary Platform and led by Juan Guaidó, boycotted previous elections, including Maduro’s reelection as president in May 2018, arguing that Venezuela lacked the conditions for free and fair competition.
The group decided to participate in the upcoming elections after a “difficult internal consultation” prompted by the serious challenges the country faces and the “urgency to find permanent solutions,” the group said.
The decision to participate in the elections was approved by several parties, including Voluntad Popular, of which Mr. Guaidó is a member.
Millions of Venezuelans live in poverty amid low wages and high food prices due to the worst inflation in the world. The United Nations food aid agency estimates that one in three Venezuelans struggles to get enough daily calories.
The country’s political, social and economic crises, attributed to plummeting oil prices and two decades of government mismanagement, have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“We know that these elections will not be a fair, conventional election; the dictatorship has raised serious obstacles that endanger the expression of change of the Venezuelan people; however, we understand it will be a useful battleground” toward future presidential and parliamentary elections, the group’s statement said.
Following the announcement, Mr Maduro said in televised comments that “popular sovereignty has been re-established”.
“I’m going to sit in my armchair, with the TV on and my popcorn, to watch Juan Guaidó vote on November 21,” Maduro said. “And there I will applaud because we managed to get him back into democracy.”