Caracas, May 24, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has set December 10 as the date for gubernatorial elections, after they were controversially postponed in 2016.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, CNE President Tibisay Lucena stated that the electoral body was close to concluding a six-month long registration process to validate Venezuelan political parties, meaning that election dates could finally be announced.
She also confirmed that elections to choose delegates to the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) announced by President Nicolas Maduro on May Day will take place “at the end of July”.
Making reference to the deadly protests that have rocked the country since the beginning of April and which have cost 63 lives to date, Lucena affirmed that the CNE would act “with special care to guarantee the rights of all citizens at a crucial moment for the country”.
“It is important to highlight that this is a hopeful opportunity for those of us who want tranquility and progress in Venezuela. This constituent assembly… should put forward a necessary social and political agreement to be able to live together with respect,” said the CNE head.
“We believe that the whole nation wants to overcome this terrible, violent episode as soon as possible, which harasses and wounds the will of Venezuelans to live in harmony,” she added.
Despite having demanded regional elections as part of a set of ultimatums presented to the government since their supporters took to the streets at the beginning of April, the Venezuelan opposition has rejected the CNE’s announcement of the election dates.
Just hours after Lucena’s press conference, the president of the opposition-held National Assembly, Julio Borges, slammed the CNE announcement as a “trick”. He confirmed that the opposition would continue to boycott the National Constituent Assembly and had activated a “new phase of struggle” against the process.
“We will not fall into this trap, we think that today’s announcement is to distract and divide us,” he said.
“The Supreme Court, Maduro and Lucena keep promoting the violence, we will stay in the streets until our objectives are achieved,” he added.
Meanwhile, from a pro-government march in Caracas on Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced ten points that will orientate the constituent process as it moves ahead.
The information – which is the most in-depth to have been made public since the initiative to re-write the country’s Constitution was first announced – was divulged by the president on the back of several meetings with the Presidential Constituent Commission, which is tasked with overseeing the process.
According to statements from Maduro, the ANC will be made up of an still unknown number of sectoral delegates, 364 territorial delegates, and an additional 8 indigenous representatives, who will be elected according to indigenous norms and customs.
The president explained that one constituent delegate will be elected by a majority vote in each municipality across the country regardless of population size, while two constituent delegates will be elected in each of Venezuela's 23 states and the Capital District of Caracas via proportional representation.
“This means that the Capital District of Caracas will have 7 constituent delegates, the state of Anzoategui will have 22 constituent delegates as a state, Apure 8, Aragua 19, Barinas 13, Bolívar 12, Carabobo 15, Cojedes 10, Falcón 26, Guárico 16, Lara 10, Mérida 24, Miranda 22, Monagas 14, Nueva Esparta 12, Portuguesa 15, Sucre 16, Táchira 30, Trujillo 21, Yaracuy 15, Zulia 22, Amazonas 8, Delta Amacuro 5 and Vargas 2,” explained Maduro.
Venezuelans may put themselves forward as a territorial candidate or be nominated by a group of voters, however they must have the support of 3% of the electoral roll in their corresponding municipality.
Meanwhile sectoral delegates will be elected from amongst constituencies of workers, rural workers (campesinos) and fishermen, students, people living with disabilities, indigenous peoples, pensioners, businesspeople, and spokespeople from communes and communal councils.
The “workers” sectoral category will be broken down into sub-sections which include oil, mining, basic industries, business, education, health, sport, transport, construction, culture, intellectuals, press, science, technology and public administration.
According to Maduro, the CNE will be responsible for coordinating with official institutions, trade unions, and professional guilds in order to cross-check their employee records with electoral lists. The electoral body will also make contact with private and public universities, as well as with state educational missions, to obtain records for the country’s student sector.
One national delegate will be elected for every 83,000 voters on the electoral list for each sectoral constituency, with the exception of the commune and communal council delegates who will be chosen via “communal leadership in their own states”.
Candidates will be nominated by their corresponding sectors and must also have support from at least 3% of registered voters in their professional field.
Additionally, the president announced that the ANC will be single-chambered and elected government officials, active army personnel, judges, ministers, and CNE rectors, amongst others, will be prohibited from standing.
Once the delegates are elected, the ANC will be convened within a period of 72 hours, stated Maduro.
The surprise initiative to convoke the Constituent Assembly was announced by President Maduro on May 1 as a political solution to the past seven weeks of violent protest and to the ongoing confrontation between the opposition-controlled National Assembly and the executive branch of government.
The right-wing opposition withdrew from Vatican-mediated talks with the government last year and has since refused to enter into further dialogue despite the escalating violence.