By Eyanir Chinea
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will hold parliamentary elections in the last quarter of this year and the exact date will be announced soon, the head of the National Electoral Council (CNE) said on Sunday.
Pressure has been mounting on the socialist President Nicolas Maduro to set the date for the 2015 parliamentary elections. The scheduled vote comes as a severe economic downturn pummels Maduro's popularity, leading to speculation in some quarters that the election may not be called at all.
"Where are they getting this idea that we won't have elections?" Tibisay Lucena said in an interview with the Televen television channel.
"From the start of this year, we've said that this is an electoral year. We can say that in the last quarter of this year we'll have the elections. We're going to announce it very soon."
Leftist ally and regional heavyweight Brazil on Thursday urged elections to be called as soon as possible.
(Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Nick Zieminski)