Venezuela's election board said on Monday the opposition successfully collected 1 percent of voter signatures in every state in the first phase of their push for a referendum to recall socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
But council head Tibisay Lucena asked for a judicial probe into some apparent cases of voter identity fraud, and did not name a date for the next phase, to collect 20 percent of signatures.
The timing is crucial because if Maduro were to lose a referendum this year, as polls indicate he would due to an economic crisis, that would trigger a new presidential vote, giving the opposition a chance to end 17 years of socialism.
But should he lose a referendum next year, Maduro, 53, would be replaced by his vice president, maintaining the Socialist Party in power until the OPEC nation's next presidential election scheduled for the end of 2018.
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