Chavistas from the CNE (National Electoral Council) announced their resignation this Thursday (15), in what appears to be an implosion of the Venezuelan body that would organize the opposition primaries for the 2024 presidential elections.
The president of the council, Pedro Calzadilla, was one of the officials who made his position available to the National Assembly. He did not detail the reason for the resignations, which in practice prevent activities due to lack of quorum precisely when the body would provide technical assistance for the opposition to choose its candidate for next year’s election.
In a statement, Calzadilla said he wanted to “facilitate the formation of a new CNE that represents the consensus and aspirations of the democratic sectors of the Venezuelan people.”
The dispute would be resolved with the appointment of replacements by the Legislature, which does not seem to be a priority for the deputies, who are mostly supporters of the dictator Nicolás Maduro —since Tania D’Amelio resigned from the council to join the country’s Supreme Court of Justice, in April of last year, his chair is vacant. With the resignation of two more members this Thursday, only opponents Roberto Picón and Enrique Márquez remain on the board, although their future is uncertain.
According to the local press, the Assembly would have decided to replace them, which would constitute an unconstitutional measure, according to experts interviewed by the media.
“The Constitution establishes, in its article 296, that CNE members spend seven years in the exercise of their functions and that, in order to be removed from office, there must be a prior pronouncement by the Supreme Court of Justice, because they enjoy prerogatives,” he said. a former legal advisor at the agency, Celis Mendoza, told the Efecto Cucuyo website.
The measure comes two weeks after an opposition commission said it would ask for technical assistance from the CNE for the primaries – the choice of the candidate who will run with Maduro in 2024 is scheduled for October this year. The option of organizing the primaries on their own is considered by some opponents, according to the newspaper El País, but it would be a logistical and technological challenge that could give rise to sabotage.
The current governance of five deans was appointed in 2021 for a period of seven years and, with three members linked to Chavismo and two opponents, it was considered one of the most balanced in more than ten years. The body’s design came at a favorable moment for Maduro’s opponents, who faced great international pressure.
The council replaced a provisional body accused of fraud in elections in 2020, when parliament was renewed, and in 2018, when the dictator was re-elected in contested voting inside and outside Venezuela.
With new formation, the CNE was responsible for organizing the 2021 regional elections, in which the European Union, which it accompanied as an observer, reported that inequalities persisted in access to state resources for campaigning and media exposure, although it found “better conditions” .
The election was the first with the participation of independent international observers in 15 years, one of the regime’s concessions to try to end the economic sanctions that the country is the target of. Fragmented, the opposition did not achieve the expected victory, but achieved symbolic achievements, such as the triumph in Barinas, the state of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013.
“We hope that this is not a scheme to try to make an impact on the primaries and, consequently, on the general elections,” said Dinorah Figuera, head of the parallel opposition legislature, in a message to the Reuters news agency.