Puebla, Mexico, May 26, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan grassroots movements are gearing up for a weekend of popular assemblies to nominate candidates for the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections.
The assemblies were called by President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday, who said “the time has come to nominate the leaders of the country”.
"This Saturday and Sunday, I want women, labourers, workers, campesinos, entrepreneurs, people with disabilities, the youth, students, [and] all social and political forces to participate in their nomination assemblies for the National Constituent Assembly [ANC]," Maduro announced via state media.
These assemblies over the weekend won’t choose candidates. Instead, they’ll offer ordinary Venezuelans the opportunity to put their names forward as potential candidates in ANC elections in July. Any potential candidates will be able to begin the process of official registration next Wednesday, when Venezuela’s electoral authority, the CNE, will begin distributing registration documents.
According to CNE head Tibisay Lucena, “All people [who are running as candidates] will be able to download the … official form to collect 3 percent of the signatures [required].”
To be officially recognised as a candidate, an individual must secure the support of at least 3 percent of voters in their municipality. This, however, only applies to candidates for territorial delegate positions.
These territorial delegates will represent Venezuela geographically at the ANC, with each delegate representing a municipality. Each state will also be represented by two delegates.
Meanwhile, sectoral candidates will also be elected based on their occupations. These sectors include workers, rural workers (campesinos) and fishermen, students, people living with disabilities, indigenous peoples, pensioners, businesspeople and spokespeople from communes and communal councils. These sectors will also be sub-divided into smaller sectors representing specific areas of society.
Each candidate for these positions will need at least 3 percent of signatures from their sectoral area.
Once delegates are elected, the ANC itself will have the power to propose changes to Venezuela’s constitution, though any proposals will need to be put to a referendum to be enacted.
Maduro has argued constitutional reform could aid his country in overcoming its current political and economic crisis. Since Maduro announced the ANC in May, the proposal has garnered widespread support from Venezuela’s grassroots, who view the initiative as a chance to reinvigorate the country’s Bolivarian revolution.
Venezuela’s largest coalition of right-wing opposition parties, the MUD, has vowed to boycott the ANC, arguing it’s a ploy by Maduro to hold on to power. Around the same time Maduro announced the ANC, he also confirmed presidential elections will take place next year.