Three Venezuelan opposition legislators step down to advance dialogue

Three Venezuelan opposition legislators resigned on 15 November 2016 in accordance with an agreement made by the government and the opposition on 12 November. Nirma Guarulla and Julio Ygarza, Deputies from Amazonas state, and Romel Guzamana, an indigenous Representative from southern Venezuela, stepped down to end a dispute over their election on 6 December 2015 (Panorama). The Supreme Court had banned the Deputies from taking office in January 2016 due to allegations of voter fraud. However, the Asamblea Nacional (AN) swore the legislators in on 28 July, leading the Supreme Court to rule that the AN is in contempt of the law and any of the body's legislative decisions are null and void. 

The opposition's two-thirds supermajority hinged on the presence of the three deputies, as after their resignation, the opposition's ranks fell from 112 to 109 out of 167 deputies in the AN. As agreed in talks between the Government and the opposition on 12 November, the state must hold a new round of legislative elections. Powerful factions within the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), such as the Voluntad Popular party, have strongly opposed holding new elections in Amazonas, arguing the MUD is conceding too much in the dialogue process (Efecto Cocuyo). The Deputies' resignation was designed to ease political tension between the Government and the opposition, at the cost of further dividing an already fractious MUD.