Venezuela election board says Maduro referendum may happen in 2017

September 22, 2016 07:10

Venezuela's national election board said on Wednesday a referendum sought by the opposition to remove unpopular socialist President Nicolas Maduro could be held in early 2017 if enough signatures are gathered to request it.

If the opposition coalition successfully collects 20 percent of total voter signatures requesting the vote during a drive set for Oct. 26-28, then "it could take place half-way through the first quarter of 2017," the board said in a statement.The timing is all-important. If a referendum is held this year and Maduro loses - as polls say he would - there would be a new presidential election, but if he exits in 2017, his vice-president would take over, keeping the Socialists in power.

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