Venezuela Opposition to Run in Elections, Ending Boycott

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Venezuela’s opposition is set to announce it will break a three-year boycott of elections and register candidates for November’s vote, marking progress on a key issue in political negotiations with President Nicolas Maduro’s government. 

The country’s main opposition parties are expected to jointly announce they will run in the nationwide vote for mayors and governors scheduled for Nov. 21, according to seven people with direct knowledge of the matter. 

Opposition leader Juan Guaido’s Popular Will party, which has been most reluctant to participate, will join the announcement, which is likely to be made over the weekend or Monday, the people said. The party headed by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who has repeatedly urged candidates to run, will also participate, two of the people said. 

Venezuela Opposition to Run in Elections, Ending Boycott

The opposition sat out 2018 presidential and 2020 congressional elections, which it claimed were fraudulent. Participation in the November vote is a central topic in a new round of negotiations with the government set to resume Sept. 3 in Mexico City. Politicians have called on Maduro to establish basic electoral guarantees to ensure a free and fair vote and for international monitoring missions to be invited to observe. 

One reason the opposition decided to run is because the European Union is leaning toward deploying an electoral observation mission in November, two of the people said. The EU said it would only monitor the vote if the opposition participates, the people said. 

For its part, the government is permitting exiled politicians to return and run for office and has allowed the nation’s main opposition coalition to take part in the vote. Some of those leaders were banned from politics. The opposition’s participation in the elections would bolster Maduro’s chances of getting the U.S. to ease some economic sanctions, a top goal for the embattled strongman. 

Although the deadline to register candidates is Sunday, the Electoral Council may delay it, according two people. Leaders of the dozen or so opposition parties are trying to avoid running multiple candidates in more than 20 races for governor and more than 300 mayoral elections, the people said. 

Representatives from the leading parties declined to comment. The Electoral Council did not respond to a request for comment.

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