But even if they collect the 4 million signatures needed to trigger the plebiscite, in a drive later this month, such a vote could only take place next year.
Venezuela’s highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, ruled late Monday the opposition must collect signatures from 20 percent of voters in each state to initiate a recall referendum – aggravating an already difficult task.
With severe shortages of food and basic goods a daily reality here, opinion polls show seven in 10 Venezuelans want a change in government. Maduro, who replaced the popular Hugo Chavez in 2013 after his death, has seen his ratings halve to just over 20 percent amid a deep economic crisis in the OPEC nation.
The mandates of the 23 state governors were scheduled to end in January 2017 so that it was anticipated that the regional elections would take place in December.
The country’s election board announced the delay which is seen as favouring the unpopular socialist government.
Although Lucerne has not given any reasons for postponing the elections, the government sources said that exceptional measures are justified by the ‘economic war’ unleashed by the United States against Venezuela and the collapse of oil prices.
The next presidential vote is due at the end of 2018.
‘This decision of the Election Commission is part of a dangerous development of a regime that is clearly acting outside the limits of the constitution, ‘ reads a release of the opposition coalition.
They also argue that while the recall referendum requested by the opposition is in the works, no elections can be held.
But Maduro keeps a tight hold on key levers of power, including the courts, which have backed him in moves aimed at neutralizing the opposition-controlled National Assembly and heading off a recall.
“Nicolas Maduro was elected president and he must finish his term”, Cabello said.