[JURIST] The Venezuela Supreme Tribunal of Justice [official website, in Spanish] ruled [materials, in Spanish] on Monday that a referendum to unseat President Nicolas Maduro will require his opponents to collect signatures from 20 percent of voters in each of Venezuela’s 24 states. The court interpreted Articles 15 and 29 of the Rules Regulating the Procedure for the Referendums [text, PDF in Spanish], denying the opponents’ argument that the rules only required signatures from 20 percent of voters nationally. In June the National Electoral College [official website, in Spanish] declared [JURIST report] that the more than 600,000 signatures found on an earlier petition for the referendum were invalid.
There has been considerable legislative tension between the pro-government controlled Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the opposition-majority National Assembly of Venezuela following the December election. In April Venezuela’s opposition-led parliament approved [JURIST report] new referendum rules. In March the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that the Venezuelan national assembly may not review the appointment of 13 justices [JURIST report] to the high court by the Socialist Party. The 13 justices were sworn in on December 23, immediately prior to the exit of prior Socialist Party majority. In February the court upheld President Maduro’s economic emergency decree [JURIST report] as legal and valid despite a rejection by the national assembly. The decree allows the president to control the budget, companies and the currency. In January the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that all decisions from the opposition-led assembly would be void [JURIST report] until three opposition lawmakers were removed from their seats.