Press Release: Europe could play a key role in restoring Venezuelan democracy


In October 2023, the EU recognized Venezuela's primary elections. Unlike other countries, where this would have been a regular democratic exercise, the Venezuelan elections were marked by constant attempts by the government to thwart them: from changes in the electoral committee and threats to the media to the unconstitutional measure of trying to disqualify some candidates.

In the end, the elections took place and exceeded expectations. More than two million Venezuelans inside and outside the country turned out to vote on 22 October in a citizen-run poll that elected the candidate to challenge the Bolivarian regime that, combining the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, has been in place for almost 25 years.

With 92% of the votes, the undisputed winner was María Corina Machado of the Vente Venezuela party. In a November poll by the Meganálisis group, Machado is positioned with 70% of overall voting intentions, while another ORC poll gives her lower but still much higher expectations than Maduro: 47.2% against 13.5%.

As a result, the Supreme Court of Justice ratified on January 26  the illegal measure of "disqualifying" Machado from holding public office for 15 years, something that not only violates the political rights of the candidate but also the will of the millions of Venezuelans who have voted for her and supported her in recent months. Moreover, it breaks the agreements signed in Barbados by the government and part of the opposition in October last year, which sought electoral guarantees for a democratic transition.

Against this backdrop, the EU must take urgent decisions: supporting elections that do not include the candidate elected by the voters would mean approving a fraudulent process that lacks legitimacy inside or outside the South American country. By contrast, ratifying support for the country's democratic actors would mean siding with the voters in what could be the last chance in a long time to achieve a free Venezuela with which Europe can have real political and commercial ties - especially important given that this is the country with the largest oil reserves.

The EU needs to muster all measures at its disposal to support the conduction of a fair and competitive electoral process in which all actors involved participate on an equal footing. Not only is this crucial for Venezuela, but also for Latin America and the United States, where the 7.7 million immigrants (nearly a quarter of the population) represent a growing resource management problem.

Far from an act of interventionism, what Venezuela requires is unconditional support for its democratic measures: adherence to the constitution on the one hand and recognition of the results of the primary elections on the other.