The poll marks the first time a major opposition party has participated in elections in four years.
Venezuelans will go to local and regional election polls to elect more than 3,000 governors, mayors and city council members in this South American country plagued by prolonged economic recession and hyperinflation.
Sunday’s election is a major challenge for both the electoral authorities and opposition politicians, as the latter returned to run for the first time in four years against the votes of President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Opposition politicians boycotted the 2018 and 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections respectively, accusing the Maduro government of fraud.
More than 130 international monitors will watch Sunday’s elections, most of them from the European Union, to meet the long-standing demands of Maduro’s opponents.
This is the first time an EU observer has been in Venezuela in 15 years. In previous elections, foreign observations were basically conducted by multilateral and regional electoral organizations closely related to the Venezuelan government.
Observers will monitor election conditions, such as fairness, media visits, election campaigns, and disqualification of candidates. They are expected to release a preliminary report early next week and conduct an in-depth study next year.
If the opposition loses the four governorships of the 23 states it won in 2017, it will lack the power base to launch the 2024 presidential election campaign.
The vote will also test the impartiality of the Venezuelan Electoral Commission, whose members stated that the commission had two opponents among the top five directors in May, making it the most balanced board in 17 years.
More than 21 million Venezuelans are eligible to vote for 23 governor and 335 mayor positions. They are selected from more than 70,000 candidates running for the election.
Maduro, whose term will end in 2025, is not on the ballot.
Historically, voter turnout in state and municipal elections has been very low, and the upper limit of abstention has been hovering around 70%.
Regardless of the turnout rate, Sunday’s elections may mark the emergence of new opposition leaders, consolidate the alliance, and draw a line between Maduro’s opponents, who have been hit hard by internal divisions when participating in these elections, which are often planted. Rooted in their frustration about not being able to defeat the parliament. Heir to the late President Hugo Chavez.