Record Modified: Dec 06 2023

Dec. 3, 2023 Confirmed


More Info:

At Stake in this Election: 

On 3 December 2023, Venezuelans will vote on whether their government should reassert a longstanding but vehemently disputed claim over Essequibo (known in Venezuela as Guayana Esequiba), a region of Guyana. At least 25% of the electorate must participate for each provision to be approved. 

The referendum questions are:  

1) Do you agree to reject by all means under the law, the boundary line fraudulently imposed by the arbitration decision of Paris of 1899 that is meant to dispossess us of our Guayana Esequiba?  2) Do you support the Geneva Accord of 1966 as the only valid legal instrument that can reach a practical and satisfactory solution for Venezuela and Guyana in terms of the controversy over the territory of Guayana Esequiba?  3) Do you agree with Venezuela’s historical position of not recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in resolving the territorial controversy over Guayana Esequiba?  4) Do you agree to oppose by all means under the law, Guyana’s attempts to unilaterally manage a maritime area, yet to be delimited, in an illegal manner and in violation of international law?  5) Do you agree with the creation of the state of Guyana Esequiba and an accelerated plan to integrate the current and future population of that territory including, among other acts, the provision of citizenship and Venezuelan identification cards, according to the Geneva Agreement and international law, thus incorporating the aforementioned state into the territorial map of Venezuela? 

Government Structure:  

  • Chief of State: President Nicolás MADURO Moros (since 19 April 2013) 

  • Head of Government: President Nicolás MADURO Moros (since 19 April 2013) 

  • Assembly: unicameral National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional) with 277 seats 

Electoral System:  

  • The President is directly elected by plurality vote and may serve unlimited 6-year terms. 

  • In the National Assembly, 274 members are directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 3 Indigenous members are directly elected from single-seat constituencies (West, South, and East, each made up of several states). All members serve 5-year terms. 

New/Unique This Election:  

Guyana has asked the International Court of Justice to order an emergency halt to the referendum, as the Guyanese government views it as an attempt to illegally annex much of Guyana’s territory. The Essequibo region has been administered by Guyana since the nineteenth century, but Venezuela has attempted to claim the area several times, resulting in an international court ruling in 1899 and a treaty in 1966. Venezuela’s renewed assertions of a claim to Essequibo come after significant oil reserves were found in the seabed off Essequibo in 2015. 

Last Referendum: 

The last referendum in Venezuela was held in in 2009, when a majority of voters (54.85%) approved several constitutional modifications that eliminated term limits for all directly elected offices. Voter turnout was 70%, meeting the 25% minimum threshold needed to validate referendum results. 

Key Deadlines: 

Population and Registered Voters: 

Gender Data: 

Disability Data: 

  • Projected population with a disability: 4,245,255 (2022 est.) 

IFES Resources: 

  • Does IFES have a presence in Venezuela: No 

  • Election Access: Yes 

  • Election Judgements: Yes, 2 judgments and 6 resources 

Referendum Text in Spanish 

1) ¿Está usted de acuerdo en rechazar, por todos los medios, conforme al derecho, la línea impuesta fraudulentamente por el laudo arbitral de París de 1899 que pretende despojarnos de nuestra Guayana Esequiba?    2) ¿Apoya usted el Acuerdo de Ginebra de 1966 como el único instrumento jurídico válido para alcanzar una solución práctica y satisfactoria para Venezuela y Guyana, en torno a la controversia sobre el territorio de la Guayana Esequiba?    3) ¿Está usted de acuerdo con la posición histórica de Venezuela de no reconocer la jurisdicción de la Corte Internacional de Justicia Territorial para resolver la controversia territorial sobre la Guayana Esequiba?    4) ¿Está usted de acuerdo en oponerse, por todos los medios, conforme al derecho, a la pretensión de Guyana de disponer unilateralmente de un mar, pendiente por delimitar, de manera ilegal y en violación del Derecho Internacional?    5) ¿Está usted de acuerdo con la creación del estado Guayana Esequiba y que se desarrolle un plan acelerado para la atención integral de la población actual y futura de ese territorio, que incluya, entre otros, el otorgamiento de la ciudadanía y cédula de identidad venezolana, conforme al Acuerdo de Ginebra y el Derecho Internacional, incorporando en consecuencia, dicho estado en el mapa del territorio venezolano?