CARACAS (Reuters) – A European Union mission that visited Venezuela last week discussed with authorities the possibility of delaying a parliamentary vote scheduled for Dec. 6, in the hopes of improving electoral conditions, the bloc said on Wednesday.
Dozens of opposition parties say they will boycott the election, arguing it will be rigged in favor of President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling socialist party, though one group within the opposition has said it is seeking better conditions for possible participation.
“The EU’s policy vis-à-vis Venezuela remains unchanged: the conditions are not currently there for a free, fair and democratic electoral process to take place,” the EU said in a statement, adding that it would not be able to send an electoral observer mission in the current conditions without a delay.
“The possibility of postponing the legislative elections in order to open a space for dialogue and change those conditions was discussed.”
One person with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the EU representatives requested the government delay the vote by at least six months, and that there was no immediate response from the government.
Maduro, who had previously requested the EU send observers for the vote, argues the opposition does not want to participate because it does not value democracy. Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Maduro’s government has ignored laws passed by the National Assembly since an opposition coalition won control in a late 2015 vote. Legislative elections are due every five years under Venezuela’s constitution.
During their visit to Caracas, two representatives of the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrel met with two top socialist party officials as well as opposition leader Juan Guaido, civil society representatives and religious leaders.
(Reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool)
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