Caracas, May 1, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) issued a ruling Friday loosening the requirements for political party renewal set down by the National Electoral Council (CNE) earlier this year.
In February, the CNE unveiled a party registration process in which all parties that did not win at least one percent of the national vote in the 2015 legislative elections must prove that they have a membership base amounting to 0.5% of registered voters in at least 12 states of their choice.
The procedure has been sharply criticized by left-wing parties aligned with the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV) as well as by smaller opposition parties, who say the stringent requirements are “impossible” to meet.
However, this past Friday, the high court modified the CNE protocol, ruling that the votes parties received in the previous election would count towards the 0.5% threshold.
“The Constitutional Tribunal of the Supreme Court of Justice considers that the vote obtained by parties in the last electoral process will be recognized in order to complete the 0.5% necessary for validation,” reads the verdict, which was issued in response to a petition by opposition party Bandera Roja.
As such, parties that received less than 0.5% of the vote in 12 states will only have to undergo the registration process in those states where they have yet to meet the threshold, significantly streamlining the procedure.
On the basis of the new rules, the TSJ ordered the CNE to release a new timetable for the renewal process, which it must begin again under the modified protocols.
The high court described the ruling as a safeguard for political pluralism and democracy.
“With this [decision], pluralism is guaranteed for the comprehensive exercise of the right to active participation by organizations with political ends and for the strengthening of democracy,” the TSJ declared.
The decision is expected to benefit both government-aligned parties such as the Communist Party as well as small opposition parties including the Christian Democratic COPEI, which faced the possibility of being made ineligible to run in elections under the previous regulations.