More than a week after declaring himself as Venezuela’s interim president amid an ongoing constitutional crisis, the European Parliament voted on January 31 to recognise Juan Guaidó as the legitimate head of the Venezuelan government.
Brussels’ non-binding decision – by a margin of 439 to 104, with 88 abstentions – to side with the pro-democratic opposition came after the European Parliament decided that the country’s embattled Marxist strongman, Nicolás Maduro, who enjoys the backing of Russia, Iran, and Syria – had “publicly rejected the possibility of holding new presidential elections” after being given an ultimatum by the EU that a snap vote needed to be called or the European Union would be forced to recognise Guaidó – the President of the National Assembly – as Venezuela’s leader.
“We can help change the Venezuelan regime and make it known that tyrants will never enlighten any democratic possibility,” Spanish EPP MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons said in a statement. The non-binding resolution to recognise Guaidó as the interim leader comes as a first step according to the European Parliament lawmakers, that call on all EU governments to follow their steps.
The European Parliament’s decision came just days after the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, issued a statement calling for immediate “free, transparent and credible presidential elections in accordance with international democratic standards and the Venezuelan constitutional order”.
Prior to the vote, Spain, Germany and France had taken early steps towards officially recognising the opposition by giving Maduro eight days to call new elections. Their decision was somewhat tempered by anti-trans Atlantic alliance governments in Europe, including Greece’s ruling leftist party, SYRIZA, who called for dialogue between the two sides and who expressly refused to condemn Maduro for his past use of force against anti-government protesters.
Sensing a divide within Europe, Maduro rejected the Brussels’ demand earlier in the week and chastised the European Union for aligning itself with the United States, Canada, and most of Latin America.