Maduro Allows Main Venezuela Opposition Bloc to Run in Election

Venezuela’s government-controlled electoral board said it would allow the nation’s main opposition coalition to take part in upcoming elections, in a bid to boost participation after years of boycotts.

The Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition bloc, known as MUD, will be one of twenty recently authorized political parties through which candidates can vie for the more than 300 state and local positions up for election on Nov. 21.

Maduro Allows Main Venezuela Opposition Bloc to Run in Election

The vote will be the first to take place under a new electoral oversight board that now includes two opposition members out of five.

By granting concessions, President Nicolas Maduro can potentially provide the election with enough legitimacy for the country to seek relief from U.S. sanctions and return to international financial markets, while bolstering his global image.

One prominent member of the MUD, opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, has been championing talks with Maduro in return for incremental compromises from the regime. His colleague Juan Guaido is seeking a more comprehensive political accord. Though MUD candidates can now stand, both Capriles and Guaido personally -- and a dozen others -- are still banned from running in any election for more than a decade.

The European Union said last week that it would send a technical mission to Venezuela to assess if conditions exist to deploy an electoral observation mission for the November vote, an important step toward legitimizing the election.

“If the political line now will be to respect the constitution, then it will surely have the support of the majority of the Venezuelan people,” Capriles tweeted early Tuesday.

For years, the nation’s fractured opposition has been in conflict internally, in addition to battling the regime’s authoritarian rule. Imprisoned by the dozens, disenfranchised by rigged elections and pushed into exile by Maduro, leaders have also split on strategy and struggled for prominence.

The MUD was officially formed in 2008, as the opposition hoped to unify votes ahead of local and regional elections, seizing momentum from the electoral victory against deceased former president Hugo Chavez’s constitutional reform the year before. The coalition was initially comprised of at least ten parties and formally backed Capriles as candidate in his 2012 presidential run against Chavez, which he lost by less than 10% of the vote.

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