Chavismo’s 18 Governors Swear in Before ANC, Opposition Boycotts

State governors elected for the Great Patriotic Pole coalition were sworn in before the assembly Wednesday, but opposition governors have so far refused — leaving open the possibility of a re-run of regional elections in some states. 

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Newly elected pro-government state governors
Pro-government state governors wait to be sworn in Wednesday. (ANC_VE/Twitter)
By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas
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Bogota, October 19, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Bogota, October 19 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The eighteen state governors elected for the pro-government Chavista coalition known as the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) were sworn in before the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Wednesday.

The ceremony was officiated by ANC President Delcy Rodriguez and attended by National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena, who praised Venezuela’s democratic system.

“The strength of the Venezuelan electoral system… allowed us to successfully handle the electoral process on October 15,” said Lucena.

“The whole country won through this electoral process, which was carried out in calm,” she added. 

Last Sunday, Venezuelans took to the polls to choose twenty-three state governors. Sixty-one percent of the electorate turned out to vote in the elections, delivering a landslide victory to the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela which won eighteen states — largely due to abstention by opposition voters.

But the opposition has so far refused to swear in its five elected state governors before the ANC, which they say is illegitimate.

On July 30, over 41 percent of Venezuela’s electorate turned out in nation-wide elections to elect representatives to the assembly, however, the vote was boycotted by the opposition. They refused to participate, opting to continue with a campaign of street protests demanding early presidential elections. They have also claimed that Sunday's elections were marred by fraud, but have presented no proof of vote tampering to date. 

The ANC is the most important decision-making body in Venezuela’s constitution and has the authority to supervise all branches of government. Delegates are currently in the process of redrafting Venezuela’s 1999 constitution.

Both the ANC presidency and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed prior to Sunday’s elections that new state governors would be obliged to assume their positions before the constituent assembly.

“The Roundtable of Democratic Unity, given the blackmail of the fraudulent Constituent Assembly, reiterates before the people of Venezuela and the international community that elected governors will only submit to the mandate established in the constitution and the laws of the republic”, reads an official communication released by the Roundtable of Democratic Unity coalition (MUD).

“For this reason, they will swear in only before God and respective legislative councils, not before the fraudulent Constituent Assembly,” it continues. 

But both the Tachira legislative council and the secretary for Zulia’s state government urged newly-elected opposition governors to swear in before the body Thursday. They warned that their refusal to do so could lead to a repeat of regional elections in their respective states within the next thirty days. 

The elected opposition state governor for Nueva Esparta, Alfredo Díaz, has also publicly confirmed that he will petition the MUD leadership to re-think its position this Thursday.

“If the only alternative available to us so we don’t have to hand over the spaces we have won through the vote is to swear in before the ANC so they don’t arbitrarily take away our spaces, then we should do it, and I will ask them [MUD leadership] to accompany us,” he said

“It is about nodding our heads, not handing ourselves over,” he concluded.