The European Union said Wednesday that it will not send observers to the parliamentary elections in Venezuela in December, warning that President Nicolás Maduro’s decision to convene them on short notice exacerbates the political crisis in the country.
The EU, like the United States, wants new presidential elections to reverse Venezuela’s spiral towards authoritarian rule and economic collapse and sees the parliamentary vote as a way for Maduro to take control of the assembly from the opposition.
“As the elections are not going to be postponed, the European Union cannot even consider sending an electoral observation mission,” the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told the European Parliament.
Maduro invited the EU as an electoral observer in late September for the December 6 vote, in which voters will elect delegates to the National Assembly.
An EU mission would normally involve sending team months in advance to assess free and fair campaigns, as well as other conditions.
Members of the Venezuelan opposition have also called for a delay in allowing international observers to attend, fearing that the outcome could be manipulated in Maduro’s favor.
The current head of the assembly, Juan Guaidó, is recognized by the EU as the legitimate head of state of Venezuela, although Maduro retains control of the government and the Army.
Maduro has said that he is bound by Venezuela’s constitution to vote on December 6.
“This only serves to worsen the political situation in Venezuela,” Borrell told EU lawmakers during a debate on the crisis in the South American nation.