Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party organises primaries for regional elections in November.

Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party holds a primary on Sunday to select candidates for governor and mayor elections in November, an election that may witness the comeback of opposition political parties that have boycotted recent contests.

Allies of President Nicolas Maduro will compete for seats in the 23 state and 335 municipal governments that have formed a significant component of the Socialist Party’s domination of Venezuelan politics.

Sunday’s vote comes as the opposition and government prepare to enter into a negotiation process set to start later this month in Mexico, sources told Reuters. L1N2PB320

“Winning the governorships and mayors in the mega-elections on November 21 will give us greater governance in the country,” Maduro said on Tuesday in a live broadcast on state television. “The entire opposition knows that we will have clean and transparent elections.”

Voting seemed slow in Caracas shortly after polls opened at 7 a.m. on Sunday. There were no lines at polling stations.

The mainstream opposition boycotted presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018 and 2020, arguing they were rigged in favor of Maduro’s ruling socialist party. But a coalition in the opposition has said its willing to participate in the November election.

In May, the socialist-held National Assembly named two opposition-linked figures to a new elections council for the first time in years. In June, the head of the electoral council said the government would allow a coalition of major opposition political parties to field candidates in November’s elections.

The opposition is still negotiating conditions for participating in November and opposition leader Juan Guaido has not said whether or not he believes candidates should take part.

The opposition, backed by the United States and most Western democracies, labels Maduro a dictator who has clung to power through rigged elections and persecution of opponents. Maduro, supported by Russia and China, labels Guaido a puppet of Washington seeking to oust him in a coup.

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