Maduro’s Request for April ‘Mega Election’ Denied

President Nicolas Maduro’s call for overdue local and regional legislative elections as well as early parliamentary elections to be held on the same day as the presidential elections has been rejected by the National Electoral Council. 

By Paul Dobson
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Venezuela’s voting system has been repeatedly declared fair and transparent by international accompaniment missions. (ABC)
Venezuela’s voting system has been repeatedly declared fair and transparent by international accompaniment missions. (ABC)

Merida, February 23, 2018, ( -President Nicolas Maduro’s formal request for the expansion of the upcoming presidential elections to include elections to the National Assembly, and State and Municipal Legislative Councils, in what he termed a “mega election”, has been refused.

With only 58 days until the programmed elections, National Electoral Council (CNE) President, Tibisay Lucena, confirmed this Friday that “we are not technically able to hold all the elections together. This 22nd April only presidential elections will be held”.

She did, however, state that the CNE is soon to set a date for legislative elections.

“We are studying other dates to hold the rest of the electoral process, such as the parliamentary, and regional and municipal council elections”.

Both regional and municipal legislative council’s elections are overdue, with more than 2500 public functionaries scheduled for re-election.

Municipal Councils were last elected in December 2013, and State Legislative Council in December 2012. Both have four-year mandates.

The National Assembly elections, which were scheduled for 2021, under Maduro’s proposal would be brought forward due to a declared “void” in the organism.

“Let’s leave clear the path of 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, four years at least to dedicate ourselves to our work and recuperating the economy” he stated.

April’s presidential elections will be Venezuela’s 24th popular election in 19 years.

Maduro’s call to bring forward AN elections predictably caused anger amongst opposition deputies, who make up 65% of the body. Last elected in December 2015 for a 5-year mandate, next AN elections were scheduled for 2021.

“With this farce of a ‘mega election’, you are committing suicide… you have your days numbered” tweeted leader of First Justice Deputy, Julio Borges, addressing the president. 

However Venezuelan Progressive Movement deputy Simon Calzadilla, who participated in the Dominican Republic talks between the opposition and the government, hinted that the proposal reflected the Dominican Republic agreement: “as long as they extend the periods and there is international observation (of the elections), I think that it will be a great opportunity to get out of this (political) crisis”.

National Constituuent Assembly lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, explained that it is necessary to renew the national legislative power due to a “political ‘void’ which the actual period of the AN has created”.

The Venezuelan Constitution states that should any public office be declared to suffer from a “void”, then new elections legally must be held to occupy the position. Such voids, it explains, occur upon the death of the office holder, or a prolonged absence of the office holder(s).

In August 2016, Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) declared the AN to be illegally constituted for having sworn in threes deputies who were being investigated for electoral fraud in their constituencies. As a result of the lack of compliance of the AN to this ruling, the TSJ removed the AN’s competencies in March 2017 under articles 335 and 336 of the Venezuelan Constitution, claiming a “void” in the national legislative body.

This Wednesday, CNE Rector, Luis Emilio Rondon, did, however, cast doubt on the legal basis of holding municipal elections at the same time as AN elections, citing article 82 of the Organic Law of Municipal Public Power (article 82).

Such law states that “the election (or mayors and councillors) must necessarily be separated from being held at the same time as when the organs of the national public powers are chosen”.

According to the wording of this law, it would be illegal to hold municipal legislative elections alongside any national election, be it for the presidency or the AN.