More than 7.1 million Venezuelans participated in a symbolic referendum vote on Sunday to reject President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to change the constitution. In two weeks, Maduro plans to reshape the country’s political system and stack supporters in the National Assembly, which is now controlled by the opposition, in an effort to give him broad control over the country.
Voters made a strong showing, but it was short of the 7.7 million opposition votes in the legislative elections two years ago, and fewer than the 7.5 million votes that put Maduro in power in 2013. Leaders with the opposition said that was because they were only able to set up 2,000 polling places in a symbolic exercise the government labeled illegitimate. Votes were cast across the country and the world, with expatriates helping to decide yes or no on three key questions: Did they reject the constitutional assembly? Do they want the armed forces to back congress? Do they support the formation of a government comprising both Maduro’s backers and opponents? The opposition only released turnout numbers, but it’s believed that nearly all people who participated in the referendum voted “yes” in rejecting Maduro’s reorganization.