Maduro changes the electoral system to control the parliament

By Eugenio Martínez.

The new electoral rules and a new party system formation, are part of the government maneuvers to face the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The parliamentary election scheduled for December 6 in Venezuela will be held with new rules for the assignation of seats at chamber. Indeed, there will be an increase of 66% in the number of representatives to choose, and a reshape of a new political parties system, in which the board of directors of the main opposition parties, have been removed by supreme court orders and the implementation of a new automated voting system.

Most of these changes were ordered by the electoral authority, which in turn was illegally designated by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), controlled by the Maduro’s regime that remains illegitimately in power.

For the Venezuelan non profit organization Acceso a la Justicia “the changes made by the National Electoral Council (in Spanish Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) it doesn’t represent a real guarantees for the elections of the representatives to the National Assembly (AN), especially because neither the increase in the number of deputies to Parliament (it goes from 167 to 277 deputies), neither the modification of the nominal and list votes make it a more democratic and politically plural process, as well as a legitimate process and adjusted to the laws and constitutional principles”.

“Most of these changes were ordered by the electoral authority, which in turn was illegally designated by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), controlled by the Maduro’s regime that remains illegitimately in power”. Eugenio Martínez @puzkas

In a report after the call for elections on December 6, Acceso a la Justicia warns that the way “as events have happened in the country so far, after several sentences (68, 69 and 70) issued this year on this matter by the Supreme Court of Justice (the operative branch of the Nicolás Maduro regime outside the Constitution) increase the doubts and suspicions of the manipulation on the electoral system at the ruler will; in addition to the lack of credibility and trust towards an electoral institution, due to its illegal designation, shows that they respond to a political bias. ”

A similar point of view was shared by the members of the organization Observatorio Electoral Venezolano (OEV). According to the analysis of the organization led by electoral specialists Ignacio Avalos (former board of director of the CNE), Luis Lander and Carlos Medina “the numbers do not add up: the next National Assembly should continue to have between 165 and 167 seats, in accordance with the Constitution, but the CNE has incorporated guidelines taught by the TSJ. Increasing the number of deputies to 277 neglecting the constitutional disposition on this matter. Parliamentary elections must be based on conditions that promote confidence among political actors and voters”. OEV members stated that “increasing the number of representatives is unconstitutional. These new rules, in addition, diminish the indigenous vote within Parliament while generate an over-representation in some states”.

The new CNE and organizations that define themselves as opponents (but oppose at the same time the interim government of Juan Guaidó) and together with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) formed a National Dialogue Table to agree on these changes to the political and electoral system. They maintain that the implemented modifications are limited to normative development. However, for the electoral specialists consulted by Diario de las Américas, the changes do not improve the critical political and technical conditions that have been denounced in the past.

For Griselda Colina, director of the Observatorio Global de Comunicacion y Democracia, with these changes “instead of advancing in the fulfillment of rights, we regress (…) It is evident that confidence is not being generated in the electorate”. Colina insist that the call for December 6 was made “unilaterally, without it being part of a consensus among political actors.”

From the point of view of Acceso a la Justicia “the facts shows that it is foreseeable what’s the Maduro government objective: To hold the National Assembly, changing the rules of the game accordingly to their interests. The change in the electoral system trough an illegitimate CNE, designated on the fringes of the Constitution, and about whom there are reasonable doubts about its independence and autonomy, revoking the possibilities to hold free, fair and transparent elections”.

No information about the automated voting system

In March of this year, a fire in one of the CNE storage facilities destroying 98% of the electoral hardware used since 2004. In less than five months for the election, the CNE has not specified how these equipment will be replaced or what type of technology is going to be incorporated into the Venezuelan process. About this issue, the CNE directors have indicated the voting process on December 6 “will be automated with equipment brought from China.”

Fire on the CNE warehouse at Filas de Mariche March. 9th of 2020. Picture Victor Drax

Crafting a new political party system

The Maduro government wants the participation of 87 political parties in the parliamentary electoral process: 28 national parties, 6 organizations of indigenous communities, and 52 regional parties. These 28 national parties include organizations such as Accion Democratica (AD), Primero Justicia (PJ) and Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). AD, PJ and VP have suffered judicial interventions in the last 15 days that have changed their directives.

Analysing these sentences used by the CNE, Acceso a la Justicia recall that “the intervention of the political parties by the TSJ is not new in Venezuela, especially xlose to the electoral period, because it has been an useful strategy for Chavismo to win elections(…) Since the electoral defeat that Chavismo suffered in the 2015 parliamentary election, the threats against opposition parties began to escalate. Indeed, in 2016 the Constitutional Chamber (TSJ) issued its first sentence of the year, which interpreting the constitutional article 67, and the articles 10, 16 and 25 of the Political Parties Law, determined that parties that had obtained less than 1% of votes in the 2015 parliamentarians in less than twelve federal entities, had to renew the payroll of their registered members”.

At that time, the main objective expressed on the decision of this maximum interpreter of the Constitution was to eliminate the political organizations that renounced the use of their electoral cards to adopt the one called, Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD). This was the name of the opposition alliance, that was born to confront the ruling party, in that electoral contests. The MUD would later be disabled in early 2018.

In the meantime the actions of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC, a paralel parliament installed in August 2017) and the CNE, would collaborate in the elimination of the parties in Venezuela, issuing a series of unconstitutional decisions, violating fundamental rights.

For Accesso a la Justicia, the interventions against AD, PJ and VP by the TSJ, besides the designation of a new CNE without consensus, promote a favorable environment for the Maduro regime to repeat the experience of the presidential elections in 2018. An election that do not reflect the national intereset, because the circumstances described do not provide any guarantee or minimum conditions -much less hope- to rescue the democracy.

In their analysis, Accesso a la Justicia insist that “the recent cases decided by the TSJ represent the annihilation of political pluralism by the Maduro regime, and do not favor the recovery of alternation, respect for the Constitution and restoration of the institutionality in Venezuela”.

“The recent cases decided by the TSJ represent the annihilation of political pluralism by the Maduro regime, and do not favor the recovery of alternation, respect for the Constitution and restoration of the institutionality in Venezuela” Acceso a la Justicia @AccesoaJusticia


Posted in Spanish on Diario de las Americas

Translated by Xavier Rodriguez Franco