Venezuelan Opposition Divides over CNE Registration as Largest Parties Accept Process

Five leading parties of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition have agreed to participate in a new registration procedure mandated by Venezuela’s national electoral body.

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Major opposition parties manifested their willingness to participate in the registration process. (Archive)
Major opposition parties manifested their willingness to participate in the registration process. (Archive)
By Lucas Koerner
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Caracas, February 21, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Five leading parties of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition have agreed to participate in a new registration procedure mandated by Venezuela’s national electoral body. 

Earlier this month, the National Electoral Council (CNE) revealed that all political parties that did not win at least 1 percent of the national vote in 2015 legislative elections would need to re-register with the body in order to retain their legal status.

Between February 18 and April 23, 59 political parties will be given a two-day window to register their members using biometric voting machines in 12 states of their choice. In order to remain legal, the parties must demonstrate that they have a membership base that is equal to at least 0.5 percent of registered voters in those states. 

While the measure has come under fire from left-wing parties aligned with the government, five of the more prominent members of the right-wing MUD coalition have manifested their willingness to participate, despite voicing criticisms.

“Popular Advance [AP] is going to validate itself as a party, no matter what,” declared Pablo Sepulveda, regional AP leader for Lara state. A moderate center-right party founded by the ex-Chavista governor of Lara, Henri Falcon, AP has recently expressed support for relaunching talks between the government and the opposition.

For their part, the Democratic Action (AD), First Justice (PJ), and A New Era (UNT) parties have likewise indicated that they would participate in the CNE registration, announcing that they would be mobilizing their members over the coming weeks.

The hard right Popular Will (VP) party also signaled that it would participate in the registration process, which it nonetheless denounced as an “attempt to continuing delaying the convocation of regional elections that should have been held in December”.

“Popular Will would prefer that the [parties of the] MUD took a single position concerning the process, but that’s not the case, so we will participate in the process even if we don’t agree with it,” affirmed VP lawmaker Juan Andres Mejia, alluding to the divisions within the coalition regarding the CNE requirement.

While the MUD has issued a statement lambasting the registration procedure as “illegal and unconstitutional”, the dozens of parties comprising the electoral alliance have yet to reach a consensus rejecting or accepting the measure, leaving the decision to each party’s individual discretion.

Although the larger parties of the coalition such as AD, VP, UNT, and PJ – known as the G4 – have agreed to participate in the process, many smaller opposition parties have voiced their outright rejection. 

The Radical Cause (LCR) party has called for all of the opposition parties to run their candidates on a single MUD ticket, which has already been recognized by the CNE.

“We are going to sacrifice Radical Cause’s ticket to defend the unity of the MUD,” explained Carlos Silva, general secretary of LCR for Carabobo state.

However, the G4 parties, which stand to gain from the dissolution of their smaller coalition partners, have yet to give their backing to the proposal, opting instead to register as independent parties under the terms of the CNE.

The registration process has also been sharply criticized in recent weeks by smaller left-wing parties aligned with the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, including the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), the Homeland for All (PPT) party, and REDES.

Both the PCV and PPT have vowed to fight the measure in court.