Venezuela’s Socialist Party to Nominate Maduro as Presidential Candidate

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council announced it had invited several international organizations to participate as observers in the July 28 vote.
Rank and file members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in the state of Apure meet to discuss the party’s presidential candidate. (X / @jileduardoPSUV)

Mexico City, Mexico, March 12, 2024 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The membership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) selected Nicolás Maduro as its candidate for the July 28 presidential election following discussions by the party’s rank and file in over 300,000 local assemblies held over the weekend.

“At the forefront and determined, we will continue to demonstrate that in perfect coordination with the grassroots teams, [Bolívar-Chávez Battle Units] leaders, local leaders, spokespersons, delegates from each street and community, we will build the prosperous future of Venezuela,” wrote Maduro on Saturday as the process was underway throughout the country.

According to figures provided by the party, the exercise to discuss Maduro’s candidacy counted on the participation of 4,240,032 people. At a press conference on Monday to announce the result, Socialist Party Vice-President Diosdado Cabello emphasized the importance of the figure.

The participation of over four million supporters is a sign of the party’s strength at the grassroots level and far eclipses the reported turnout in the process held by the US-backed opposition’s National Primary Commission. Far-right opposition leader María Corina Machado won that contest but her name is not expected to appear on the ballot after the Supreme Court ratified her political disqualification.

PSUV will hold a party congress on Friday where delegates will formalize Maduro’s nomination as its candidate for the presidency. 

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced last week that the body’s board had unanimously decided to schedule the upcoming vote for July 28. The CNE said on Thursday that it had extended invitations to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the US-based Carter Center to participate as international election observers.

The attendance of international observers has been a source of controversy in Venezuela in recent contests. While elections in Venezuela have always counted on the presence of observers, the country’s electoral authorities refrained from collaborating with organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS) after it exceeded the limits afforded to them by the country’s laws in previous elections. The OAS is also viewed with suspicion in the region following its role in destabilizing the political situation in Bolivia following the 2019 vote that saw former President Evo Morales ousted in a military coup.

Maduro welcomed international delegations but warned them they would be required to abide by the country’s electoral laws and Constitution.

“The observers who want to come are welcome, they have always come, but they must respect the sovereignty of Venezuela, the Constitution of Venezuela … The Electoral Branch has the necessary autonomy to invite whoever it wants to invite,” said Maduro.

In 2021, after a lengthy absence, the EU sent a mission to accompany the country’s regional and local elections. 

Relations with the EU have been tense in recent times as a result of economic sanctions and support for a self-proclaimed “interim government.” Venezuelan authorities took umbrage with a statement by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell that took issue with the political disenfranchisement of Machado. Nonetheless, the EU is still expected to send a mission.

For her part, Machado has reiterated her desire to continue “until the end,” while analysts have speculated that mainstream opposition parties are looking for a replacement candidate. Zulia governor Manuel Rosales has been touted as a strong possibility.

At the same time, the far-right politician has retained support from hawkish US foreign policy circles. A bipartisan group of US senators, led by Florida Republican Marco Rubio, issued a statement calling on the Biden administration to reimpose oil sanctions on Venezuela and to refuse to recognize the result if Machado is not allowed on the ballot. The US license that allowed for a temporary easing of sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry is set to be reviewed in April. 

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.