Today the head of the electoral board, CNE, Tibisay Lucena announced that "if all goes well" the gathering of the 20% signature from the registered electors could take place late October. TRANSLATION: even if the 20% is gathered late October there will not be enough time to fend off legal challenges so that the Recall Election is held before January 10 2017. If the recall election is held after that date and even if 90% vote to oust Maduro, his serving vice-president will replace in office to complete the two years in the presidential term.
In other words the regime has announced that there is no way they will risk a presidential election before December 2018. And if you still do not get it, the current cabinet of musical chairs will remain presiding over the country until January 2019 at the earliest.
I will add two crusty details. Some inside the CNE have announced publicly that the MUD will be invalidated soon as a political party (which it never was) and as such their petition for a recall election is not valid. That is, the regime, just in case, has still a treacherous tool to annul the late October signature collection. The second detail is that the lone opposition sitting at the CNE board, Rondon, broke protocol and has refused to attend Tibisay Lucena announcement and instead emitted his strong declaration of dissent separately where among other things he states that there is no reason to wait for more than 38 days to gather the signatures. In short: Rondon was forced to emit a political declaration to counter what was a political declaration from Lucena, because pushing the collection to late October is indeed a political maneuver to annul the recall election.
Now, the kind regular reader may recall that on July 20 I wrote that there would not be a recall election, nor any election as long as the regime did not take the political decision to begin a transition. When, and if, such a decision is taken then there will be an election whose nature will depend on which election is less damaging for the political survival of the regime. It could be for example a presidential election following the simultaneous resignation of Maduro and his vice president. It could be a constituent assembly. It could be a trivial referendum on something justifying a change. It could be a plebiscite establishing a military regime Thailand like. It could be a declaration that a revolution does not require any more competitive elections, a la Castro-Cuba style. It could even be, why not, a Recall Election. Today's declaration of Lucena should be interpreted as such, as a delay until a final decision is taken. For all that we know next week she can decide that, considering new arguments, signatures will be collected mid September. Or never.
Let's keep in mind that the order not to have elections comes from Cuba who cannot risk to lose the Venezuelan stipend of oil that Cuba resells on the spot market. As such even the governor elections scheduled for December will not be held: such elections should have already been formally announced to prepare for them. The CNE, as far as we know, is not working on these mandatory December elections where all polls predict that the regime could lose as much as 100% of the states it holds currently. No regime can survive such an electoral loss, even a Cuban sponsored regime. As such the order also includes to postpone the governor elections.
So, the question tonight is what the opposition MUD will do? I am afraid that civil unrest is the next step. I do not see any other way out. And I am afraid that this is EXACTLY what the regime wants. It all depends on which kind of civil unrest is planned and how it is executed.
The very last "peaceful" weapon left for the National Assembly is a budget discussion which would force the regime into dissolving the National Assembly. But then you would need to elect a new assembly which result for the regime could be even worse than last December.
So civil unrest, here we go!