CARACAS, Sept 21 Venezuela's national election
board said on Wednesday a referendum sought by the opposition to
remove unpopular socialist President Nicolas Maduro could be
held in early 2017 if enough signatures are gathered to request
If the opposition coalition successfully collects 20 percent
of total voter signatures requesting the vote during a drive set
for Oct. 26-28, then "it could take place half-way through the
first quarter of 2017," the board said in a statement.
The timing is all-important. If a referendum is held this
year and Maduro loses - as polls say he would - there would be
a new presidential election, but if he exits in 2017, his
vice-president would take over, keeping the Socialists in power.
(Reporting by Eyanir Chinea and Andrew Cawthorne; Writing by
Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Sandra Maler)