Venezuela’s opposition coalition, MUD, is in a tight spot today. For months they’ve been working mightily to force a recall vote before the end of 2016. Last night, the government controlled National Elections Council, CNE, imposed conditions on the next stage of the recall process that are illegal, unconstitutional, and virtually impossible to meet: a signature collection drive in too few voting centers running for too few hours in too few places where too few people live, plus a purely arbitrary and unconstitutional requirement to collect 20% of the signatures in every state.


MUD can’t pretend that what CNE declared last night is anywhere near ok.

MUD can’t pretend that what CNE declared last night is anywhere near ok: doing so would break faith with an opposition base that is already deeply suspicious about its leadership. But MUD understands that its strength is in numbers: with likely voters now breaking 8-to-1 in favor of recalling Maduro, simply ditching the Ruta Electoral and calling for street protests alone is a non-starter.

That’s the Dilemma they face. Here’s how they should solve it:

The Creative 20%

Faced with CNE’s tricks, MUD should announce that it will participate, but on its terms.

First, MUD should say explicitly that there is no legal or constitutional basis for imposing a state-by-state 20% requirement, and that it therefore will not recognize it.

It should then denounce that the conditions are designed con premeditación y alevosía to disenfranchise millions of people who want to request a recall but will not be able to in these conditions.

It should create parallel mechanisms for its supporters who are disenfranchised by the CNE rules to register their demand for a recall.

On the same day as the CNE recall drive, MUD can:

  • Create parallel stations, run by its own activists, where its supporters can formally record that they wanted to sign but were unable to do so.
  • Hold a presidential primary out of those same parallel signing stations to finally settle the question of its leadership.
  • On the final day of CNE’s drive, call for people nationwide to procede from their parallel signing stations to protest rallies all over the country to denounce CNE’s unconstitutional power grab.
  • Stage some other idea you’ve thought of, and I haven’t.


September 1st already showed how invaluable una fecha en el calendario can be when the time comes to concentrate minds.

MUD needs to leverage the dates for the 20% Drive into a National Protest Event, and the effective launch of its campaign of civil disobedience, which will inevitably follow soon after, when CNE announces its impossible conditions have not been met.

The one positive thing MUD got out of yesterday’s announcement is the certainty that there will be an event. A date.

September 1st already showed how invaluable una fecha en el calendario can be when the time comes to concentrate minds.

MUD needs to extract maximum political mileage out of that moment, and use it to bring the conversation back to the one arena where it has a clear advantage: not violence, not guarimbas, none of that. Its crushing electoral majority, mobilized around the acute awareness of the desperate need for a change of government this year.

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