Since 2010, Venezuela has been suffering a socioeconomic crisis under Nicolás Maduro (and briefly his predecessor Hugo Chávez), as rampant crime, hyperinflation and shortages diminish quality of life. As a result of discontent with the government, for the first time since 1999, the opposition was elected to hold the majority in the National Assembly following the 2015 parliamentary election. Following the 2015 National Assembly election, the lame duck National Assembly, consisting of Bolivarian officials, filled the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the highest court in Venezuela, with Maduro allies. The tribunal quickly stripped three opposition lawmakers of their National Assembly seats in early 2016, citing alleged "irregularities" in their elections, thereby preventing an opposition supermajority which would have been able to challenge President Maduro. The tribunal then approved several actions by Maduro and granted him more powers. As protests mounted against Maduro in 2017, he called for a constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution that would replace the 1999 Venezuela Constitution of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Many countries considered the election a bid by Maduro to stay in power indefinitely, and over 40 countries stated that they would not recognize the National Constituent Assembly. The Democratic Unity Roundtable—the opposition to the incumbent ruling party—also boycotted the election claiming that the Constituent Assembly was "a trick to keep [the incumbent ruling party] in power." Since the opposition did not participate in the election, the incumbent Great Patriotic Pole, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, won almost all seats in the assembly by default. On 8 August 2017, the Constituent Assembly declared itself to be the government branch with supreme power in Venezuela, banning the opposition-led National Assembly from performing actions that would interfere with the assembly while continuing to pass measures in "support and solidarity" with President Maduro, effectively stripping the National Assembly of all its powers.
In the May 2018 elections, the incumbent President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected among various irregularities, which led many to believe that the elections were invalid. Paired with views of Maduro's leadership being an ineffective dictatorship, many politicians both internally and internationally did not believe Maduro was legitimately elected. In the months leading up to his inauguration on 10 January 2019, Maduro was encouraged to not continue as president by nations and bodies including the Lima Group (excluding Mexico), the United States, and the OAS, with this pressure being increased as the new National Assembly of Venezuela was sworn in on 5 January 2019. The National Assembly was disavowed by Maduro in 2017 and is seen as "the only democratically elected institution left in the country".
Maduro's election was supported by Russia, China, and ALBA. Internally, Maduro has received the support of the pro-government Constituent Assembly, while Guaidó is backed by the pro-opposition National Assembly.