Philadelphia, June 23, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has announced that national parliamentary elections will be held on December 6. The announcement effectively silences an opposition-fueled rumor campaign that has filled international headlines with speculations that elections would not be held.
CNE President Tibisay Lucena underlined that the much-touted rumors were baseless and that the electoral body had already registered 505,661 new voters since February as part of a grassroots voter registration drive which has seen CNE booths in metros and other public spaces throughout the country.
“At no time did the Electoral Authority indicate that there wouldn’t be an electoral process this year.”
“However,” she added, while this Authority has been working, […] some political spokespeople have dedicated themselves to trying to make the population neurotic with these lies.”
On May 23, jailed far right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez announced a “hunger strike” demanding that the Bolivarian government confirm the date of parliamentary elections and accept his preferred international observation delegations. He also called for the release of what he called “political prisoners” and an end to “censorship”.
While making headlines in the international media, Lopez has attracted scant attention at home, where there has been little doubt that elections would be held in December, given that the exact date of Venezuelan elections are rarely announced more than six months in advance.
A recent opposition march demanding that the government release the election date was attended by barely four hundred people in the capital on Saturday.
Contrary to rightwing speculation, the CNE has consistently maintained that elections are forthcoming, and as such Monday’s announcement is entirely procedural.
“The National Electoral Council does not act under pressure,” affirmed Lucena, in implicit reference to Lopez.
In eleven of the last twelve national elections held over the previous fifteen years, the opposition has competed and lost against the immensely popular Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), dismissing its failures as “fraud” and attacking the legitimacy of the CNE.
Nonetheless, despite this rightwing rejectionism, Venezuela’s electoral system is internationally acclaimed for fairness and rigor, cited by former US President Jimmy Carter as the “best in the world”. The opposition has also used the CNE to organise its primary internal elections in the past.
Following yesterday’s announcement, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro praised the CNE for fixing the election date and also called on the body to draft a document which political parties are invited to sign, certifying their recognition of the results of the upcoming poll.
“I want to be the first to sign, to recognize the results, respect the electoral arbiter now,” the socialist leader affirmed.
The Venezuelan opposition together with the Obama administration still refuse to recognize the outcome of the 2013 presidential election that saw Nicolas Maduro win by a slim margin despite overwhelming international legitimation.