Seven European Union countries on Monday recognized Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, turning decisively against President Nicolás Maduro after he refused their demand to schedule a new presidential election.

The countries — Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden — joined the United States, Canada, Australia and much of Latin America in withdrawing recognition of Mr. Maduro’s government and acknowledging Mr. Guaidó, the opposition leader, as the interim president pending elections.

Mr. Maduro easily won re-election last year, despite the collapsing economy, endemic corruption and repression in Venezuela, in a vote that his opponents and international observers said was heavily rigged.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of Germany addressing the situation in Venezuela at a news conference in Berlin on Monday. His country was among seven European nations to extend support for Mr. Guiadó on Monday.CreditBernd Von Jutrczenka/DPA, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The group of European countries had given Mr. Maduro until midnight Sunday to schedule a new, free and fair presidential election, and several explicitly warned that they would withdraw recognition if he did not. Mr. Maduro refused to order the new elections, and on Monday, the European countries followed through on the threat.

“Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically,” President Emmanuel Macron of France wrote on Twitter, adding that his government recognized Mr. Guaidó as “president in charge,” to carry out elections.

The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said on Twitter that Mr. Guaidó was being acknowledged as “interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held.”

Also on Monday, the Vatican confirmed that Mr. Maduro had sent a letter to Pope Francis, asking for “a dialogue.”

Orignially published in NYT.

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