Mérida, July 2, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela will hold elections for its National Assembly (AN) on December 6.
National Electoral Council (CNE) President Indira Alfonzo held a press conference on Wednesday to announce the timetable for legislative elections, which are constitutionally mandated to be held before the end of the year.
The timetable includes electoral registry sessions from July 13 to 26, with electoral candidates and lists to be presented from August 10 to 19 and the campaign held from November 21 to December 6. An extensive series of audits will begin on August 14 and extend to January 21, 2021.
Alfonzo added that dates are subject to adjustment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s legislative elections will also see important changes in the CNE’s electoral norms as well as in the number of deputies elected to the AN.
Voter will elect 277 deputies for the 2021-2026 period, 110 more than in the current term. The CNE will not change the 87 electoral districts that currently exist. Out of the 277 AN deputies, 48 will for the first time be elected via a national list, and the rest in the 87 constituencies with a 52-48 split between electoral lists and individual nominations.
The reforms follow a ruling by the Supreme Court last month striking down two articles of the country’s electoral law and ordering the CNE to establish new norms for greater proportional legislative representation to ensure more “political pluralism.”
According to the CNE, 28 national political organizations, 52 regional parties and six representing indigenous peoples are currently approved to participate in the December election. The changes to electoral norms had been one of the topics discussed in the National Dialogue Roundtable between the government and a host of small opposition parties.
Following the CNE announcements, President Nicolas Maduro called on Venezuelans to participate in the parliamentary elections, stressing that the government will put safety and healthcare protocols in place.
“We have seen elections held around the world during this pandemic, and Venezuela is no exception,” he said in a televised address. Maduro went on to add that the participation of 86 political organizations “strengthens democracy and peace in the country.”
Leander Perez, an activist with the Homeland for All (PPT) party, told Venezuelanalysis that the new rules can benefit smaller parties and that leftist organizations such as the PPT and the Venezuelan Communist Party had been demanding more proportional representation for years.
“The new rules encourage smaller parties to submit their own national lists and achieve representation in the AN. The previous setup forced them to run in large coalitions, the [government-led] Great Patriotic Pole and the [opposition alliance] MUD,” he explained.
Asked what strategies leftist parties should pursue, Perez urged organizations to take advantage of the more favorable conditions and set up an “independent” bloc in parliament.
“We need to set up a bloc that will act independently from the [ruling] PSUV, in alliance with popular movements, to defend a leftist agenda: demanding higher salaries and the release of imprisoned trade unionists, opposing campesino evictions, denouncing privatizations, among other things,” he said.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Juan Guaido reiterated that he will not take part in the elections, which he called a “farce.”
“There can be no elections in Maduro’s Venezuela,” a statement from Guaido’s press office read.The opposition leader has rejected taking part in elections as long as Maduro remains in office, repeatedly urging Venezuela’s armed forces to oust the president and install him in power.
Major opposition parties Democratic Action and Justice First were subjected to an intervention from the country’s Supreme Court last month, with their new leaders vowing to participate in the December contests. Guaido-aligned leaders have called for a boycott.
For its part, Washington declared it would not recognize the upcoming legislative elections.
Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Santiago de Chile.