In electing the new members of the presbytery of the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Tuesday (4), the National Assembly of Venezuela included two members of an opposition sector that tolerates Chavismo.
The CNE has been challenged in recent years by international observers and the majority of the opposition, who believe there has been fraud in several recent elections, including the constituent and regional elections, both in 2017, and the presidential election, in 2018, in which dictator Nicolás Maduro was reelected.
Last year, under international pressure, the regime announced a reform of the body. However, the choice of the members of the CNE went beyond the Constitution of the country, since the rule of such a process provided that the names of the rectors of the body had to be approved by the National Assembly.
As, at the time, the Chamber had an opposing majority, elected in 2015 and led by Juan Guaidó, the regime did not submit elected representatives to a parliamentary vote. The attitude was widely criticized and there was internal and external pressure for a new composition of the CNE.
From now on, the National Assembly, elected after elections whose legitimacy is also contested, has a new composition, a majority in power and a minority of opponents who agree to negotiate with the regime.
Of the 103 names who applied to join the five posts of the CNE presbytery, Chavistas Pedro Enrique Calzadilla, Alexis Corredor Pérez and Tania D’Amelio were chosen. The two opponents are Octavio Márquez and Roberto Picón. The first was a leader of Un Nuevo Tiempo, one of the groups that supports Guaidó, but without a party, and the other was the coordinator of MUD (Mesa de Democrática Unidad), an anti-Chavista alliance formed in Parliament in 2008 and which has diluted over time.
One of the tasks of the new CNE will be to organize the regional elections of the second semester, which will choose new governors and mayors, in addition to a possible recall referendum, a constitutional provision implemented by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez , to allow the vote. , mid-term, the continuity or otherwise of a president. In that case, a recall referendum, if approved, could take place in 2022. It would be the second attempt to remove Maduro from power through this mechanism.
The opposition bloc led by Guaidó has rejected the formation of the new CNE because it does not recognize the result of the legislative elections last December, boycotted by much of the opposition. Guaidó said “the imposition of an electoral arbitrator like this could drag Venezuela into an even greater catastrophe.” “The consequences may be the same as in 2018 and 2020: more fraudulent elections.”
Other opposing leaders, on the other hand, saw the move as a good sign. One of them was ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, for whom the inclusion of members of the opposition may be “an essential first step in opening up paths in the constitutional and democratic reconstruction of the country”.
The Organization of American States (OAS), led by Uruguayan Luis Almagro, now critic of Chavismo, condemned the new configuration of the body, for having been articulated by “an illegitimate Assembly”.
In a statement, he said the election is not recognized “because it was not free or fair, because it lacks impartiality and transparency, because it does not rely on the participation of all political actors and the population, because the political prisoners were not released, for the lack of independence of the electoral authority and for not having had contact with independent international observers and credible “.