Maduro unveils rules for electing Constituent Assembly members

And they’re just as silly as we’d feared

So Nicolás Maduro just announced the rules for electing members to the Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (ANC) — the so-called bases comiciales. They’re his best attempt to resolve an insoluble problem: how do you take 10-15% support in the opinion polls and turn that into 50%+1 of the seats in an elected Assembly?

The short answer is: you can’t. Not elegantly, anyway, and certainly nowhere near democratically. You have to go to crazy, crazy extremes to give yourself an advantage, freestyling rules that have no precedent in Venezuelan history.

Then you have to apply those rules with all the impartiality Bolivarian socialism is famous for, which is to say with not the slightest trace of impartiality.

And even then, you’re so unpopular it’s still far from certain you’ll win.

He said the ANC will have 540 constituents, elected by universal, secret and direct vote: 364 territorial members and 176 “sectoral” members.

Maduro branded the ANC as a “weapon for constitutional peace.” He didn’t add that “War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength and Freedom is Slavery,” but he might as well have.

As his speech got going, he was pretty furious that Fedecámaras and MUD refused “dialogue” with the Presidential Commission for the ANC. Crazy though it is to note, he straight-up ignored the fact that the CEV, the General Prosecutor and others openly rejected the so-called popular initiative.

Eventually, once recrimination hour was over, he got around to announcing the pile of crazy he’s passing off as his bases comiciales.

He said the ANC will have 540 constituents, elected by universal, secret and direct vote: 364 territorial members and 176 “sectoral” members. Needless to say, there will be no referendum to decide whether or not the ANC will be convened, nor is there any guarantee a referendum will be needed to eventually approve any new constitution it writes, since it’s entirely obvious that the government would lose either of those — or indeed any other remotely democratic vote.

At a territorial level, the ANC will have one delegate per municipality (elected via first-past-the-post), and two delegates per municipalities that are states’ capitals. There’ll be seven constituents from Distrito Capital.

Here is the detailed list of the number of constituents per state:

DC: 7

Amazonas: 8

Anzoátegui: 22

Apure: 8

Aragua: 19

Barinas: 13

Bolívar: 12

Carabobo: 15

Cojedes: 10

Delta Amacuro: 5

Falcón: 26

Guárico: 16

Lara: 10

Mérida: 24

Miranda: 22

Monagas: 14

Nueva Esparta: 12

Portuguesa: 15

Sucre: 16

Táchira: 30

Trujillo: 21

Vargas: 2

Yaracuy: 15

Zulia: 22

The trampa here is clear enough: this will create one of the more deliriously mis-apportioned assemblies in recent history. The vast bulk of municipalities are rural, while the vast bulk of Venezuelans live in a relative handful of urban municipalities. And — would you believe it! — the government tends to do better in rural areas than in urban areas.

Shocker!

But the real mess comes with this sectoral nonsense.

We’re told there’ll be one member for every 83,000 people certified as members of each sector.

The sectors that will be included are: workers, farmers and fishermen [and fisherwomen], students, people with disabilities, indigenous people, pensioners, businessmen [and businesswomen], comunas and consejos comunales. Of the 176 members, eight will be representatives of the indigenous people.

We’re told there’ll be one member for every 83,000 people certified as members of each sector. But the questions start right away. What’s a “certified member”? Who gets to decide that? Who decides who’s a Union member? Where do I sign up to become a campesino sector voter? And does this whole thing have a Carnet de la Patria ring to it or what?

Just to complicate the lavativa a bit more, workers will be classified according to their activities: oil, mining, basic industries, commerce, education, health, sports, transport, construction, cultores, intellectuals, press, science and technology and public administration. And students will be classified among private universities, public universities and Misiones Educativas.

Too simple for you? Don’t worry, they have ways of enredat-ing it all still more: while the members of each sector will be elected at a national level, the members of the comunas and consejos comunales will be elected by state.

How exactly CNE is supposed to turn this conceptual train wreck into an election is up for grabs.

Another interesting sectoral catch: no voter may vote in more than one sector. The decree says this is the order in which sectors will be assigned its members: businessmen, farmers and fishermen, people with disabilities, students, workers, comunas and consejos comunales, and  pensioners. Maybe it’s our imagination, but as the list progresses, the last groups will probably be easier to manipulate, right?

To put some icing on the cake, Maduro stated that constituents will have immunity.

So who can apply for a fancy Constituent badge? Venezuelans with no double nationality (interesting, to say the least) with at least 18 years of age. The applicant must also be a registered voter. If you’re applying for a territorial seat, you must have lived in the entity for at least 5 years. If you’re applying for a sectoral seat, you must be a certified member of the sector -still not sure con qué se come esto.

You can apply to be a candidate yourself, but for the territorial seats you need the support of 3% of registered voters in that district. The sectors an postulate members for their respective seats, with the support of 3% of the sectoral electoral registry.

Just to be clear, high-ranking public officials and active members of the Armed Forces may not participate on the ANC… unless, they resign from their post first.

To end with a big bang, Maduro let us know that the ANC will be based in Salón Elíptico of the Palacio Federal Legislativo a.k.a. the hall that houses the ark that contains the Book of Proceedings of the First National Congress of Venezuela, that includes the Declaration of Independence Act signed on July 5, 1811. It’s not that big a room. 540 people trying to hold a session there sounds like a circus to us.

Look, the Maduro proposal is impresentable: an affront to democracy, a spit in the face of popular sovereignty, and the kind of procedural garbage no self-respecting democrat could imaginably agree to lunch on.

The ANC will be temporarily governed by the Estatuto de Funcionamiento of the 1999 ANC, until a new one is approved. We didn’t think much of it until Carlos García put on his worried face and showed us article 1: “La Asamblea [ANC], en uso de las atribuciones que le son inherentes, podrá limitar o decidir la cesación de las actividades de las autoridades que conforman el Poder Público”. The ANC, in use of the powers inherent to it, may limit or decide to cease the activities of the authorities that make up the Public Power.

Look, the Maduro proposal is impresentable: an affront to democracy, a spit in the face of popular sovereignty, and the kind of procedural garbage no self-respecting democrat could imaginably agree to lunch on. This assembly can’t ever be allowed to convene. Not with these rules. It would be an affront.

On the other hand, Maduro is so universally despised, he could lose even with these rules. Which, really, is the most remarkable fact of all.

32 COMMENTS

  1. So they couldn’t organize a referendum in a couple of months, but they can organize this circus in less time? it would be funny if the situation wasn’t tragic.

    Also, NO, we can NOT play this game. IT’S against the law, it will kill the street protests and we won’t win. We are talking about drug dealers and mobsters here.

    FUCK that, fuck them. Stay on the street until the chaos is so insane that the army rats that want to leave the sinking ship, do it.

  2. Quico, a few days ago you were certain there would not be any Constituyente, “because there are no bases comiciales the government could trust in this climate.” Have you softened your position on this or do you still think it will not happen? I’m not trolling, just want to know what you think.

      • Come on Quico!!! THEY WILL NEVER LOSE, PERIOD. The worst thing the opposition can do is engage. They will not leave power by popular election, as simple as that. I know it would be nice to see them losing an election and surrender power, but it will not happen. Period.

      • Popular support is irrelevant. All that matters right now is institutional control: CNE, TSJ, military, etc. ANC is a must. ANC is a go.

        Our only hope is:
        a) TSJ backtracking to save their own hide (very unlikely)
        b) middle ranks in the CNE dragging their feet to delay the process (probable?)
        c) Military refusing to implement Plan República (doesn’t matter, they will probably use the Milicia)
        d) inner revolt in syndicates and consejos comunales (very unlikely, will sell their souls for a CLAP box)
        e) Art. 333 / 350 get some traction, then $#it hit the fan (when pigs fly, maybe?)

  3. 100% in agreement with the idea that this travesty should not be allowed to start. Not even if the suspiction that they would lose anyway becomes certainty. It is enough. No more smokescreens of perverted “legality”.

  4. The MUD needs to vehemently oppose this travesty.
    Individual acts of defiance will keep increasing. When Marie Antoinette replied “Let them eat cake” to the news that the people had no bread it showed the disconnect between the ruling class and the masses. Maduro’s answer to the people having no bread is to invoke a more authoritarian rule to stop the criticism of his administration.
    Any way that you try to do the equation, there simply is not enough money left to provide the basics for the people. A new National Assembly will not solve the problem. The money has been squandered. The ability to borrow in financial markets does not exist.
    Venezuelan oil production is forecast to fall below 2 million barrels per day by the end of the year. Venezuelan oil sells for roughly $10 per barrel below West Texas Intermediate (WTI). A little back of the envelope math shows approximately $30 billion per year of gross receipts. Deduct lift costs and what is used for domestic consumption and the debt service and less than half of that money is available to pay for imports. Less than $2 per day per person.
    Oil dominates the economy and is the major contributor to Dollars to pay for imports. I may be missing something. I can’t see any possibility of this humanitarian crisis improving without international aid and long term debt restructuring involving an IMF bailout. I do not believe that IMF assistance will happen until a new government is in place.
    How loyal will the military be when they are no longer getting paid? The CLAP bags that are being used to blackmail people won’t exist.
    The people are backed against the wall with nothing left to lose. They will not go home. There is nothing to go home to.
    There is no question in my mind that this government will fall. The question is how much damage, deaths and suffering will the regime inflict on the people before it is over?

    • Back in 1998 before Chavez came to power oil was at $8 per barrel and there was no crisis like this today even though the population was roughly the same. There were issues but nothing abnormal.
      Today at $30 per barrel they still can maintain power as long as they keep selling oil and maintain the military happy.
      If left on their own, they can starve to death the rest of the civilian population as long as they have the guns.
      I think they could indefinitely stay in power until oil runs out.

      • Toro
        In the Pre-Chavez days. Venezuela had a diversified economy. Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism were all contributing to the foreign exchange.
        Manufacturing has been destroyed. This eliminated businesses adding value to raw materials that were exported. The same goes for agricultural exports.
        Tourism needs no explanation. The government / PDVSA has also amassed incredible debt. The writing was on the wall when oil was at $100. The price collapse just accelerated the inevitable.
        Maduro foolishly emptied the treasury and mortgaged assets to delay default, not avoid it.
        I also forgot to mention China collecting their debt in oil. I have read that it is as much as 1/3 of Venezuelan production. I am not sure about the actual numbers. At one time it was reported that China had suspended the oil collections. I think it has resumed, but how can you believe anything this government claims?
        I understand your opinion that they will stay until the oil runs out. The oil is running out. Many engineers that are needed to keep the oil flowing have left the country. The US companies that service the wells are owed billions of Dollars and have pretty much ceased operations.
        The pressure is building and there is no way for Maduro to relieve it and remain in power.

  5. Totally nuts. As soon as they start talking about voting by sector, then are abandoning any semblance of democracy. Who decided on these categories?

    The present Constitution makes it unlawful to discriminate among groups based on social condition. (S. 21). Any law or decree which distinguishes voting rights based on categories such as “students, fishermen, people with disabilities, workers, pensioners”, and so on, is doing precisely that. Any departure from one person, one vote is discriminatory under this provision.

    Maduro’s coup against the Chavez’ constitution is based on a violation of the principle of equality before the law.

    • Their goal is to legitimize themselves in power regardless of the constitutional or legal minutiae.
      It is a desperate measure to maintain power.
      They would do anything and i mean anything but peacefully step down.
      Their last resort would be outright violent repression, full blown dictatorship.
      Just arguing about the Constituyente is a distraction and a waste of time.

    • The territorial vote is even worse. DC with more than 2 million inhabitants, 7 seats, Amazonas, with about 180000, 8.

      The whole thing, starting with calling it without a vote to see if the people actually want it, is a series of frauds.

  6. I took the 2011 state populations* off of wikipedia (it has a table ranking state populations which made it easy). I then divided the populations by elector numbers to get population per elector, by state. The quotable quote is that a vote in Amazonas is 15 times more valuable than one in the Caracas. That’s pretty extreme, but 7 states** have over 100000 per elector, while 7*** have below 40000 per elector.

    *These are somewhat lower than the populations given in the individual state articles.
    ** CD, Lara, Vargas, Carabobo, Zulia, Miranda, Bolivar (descending order)
    *** Amazonas, Codejas, Trujillo, Delta Amacuro, Merida, Falcon, Tachira

  7. Nuts? Crazy? no. If you are Maduro free elections are your enemy, thus this ANC is the perfect way to get around this. Unless stopped, they are going to ram this thing down our throats and it will this even-more-fucked-than-Cuba reality forever.

    We need to keep pushing to get more defections on the military and Chavistas elites.

    • Maduro will push the ANC regardless (It is a dictatorship), but the opposition will ignore it, then Maduro “wins” claiming legitimacy to power wiping off the National Assembly and the opposition off the political map.

  8. The intention is clear–Cubanize Venezuela, and they will proceed, until stopped, by: Ven. military rebellion; Ven.successful national strike; Ven. civil war; or U. S. major economic/military intervention. Making the internet rounds is Capitulo 2/Art. 29, of supposed ANC agreements, basically abolishing private property rights, a la Allende….If Venezuelan self-interests do not stop this train wreck, stopping will come from the outside–geopolitically, the Cuban cancer cannot be allowed to establish itself on continental South America….

  9. These Chavista thugs know by now they have nowhere to run not even Cuba. The biggest criminals will be persecuted internationally, for drugs and other offenses.

    Those who are not entirely stupid might be looking for new bank accounts, a brand new face (surgery) and new passport. But Venezuelan criminals are too dumb. Some of them are hoping for “amnesty” when the MUD takes over. Some will try to hide their stolen millions in Australia or Uruguay. Many Chavista corrupt thugs will indeed get away with murder and millions of $ .Too many of them to track down. (PDVSA, Corpoelec etc etc etc….)

    Yet hopefully the biggest bastards,, Maduro,, Cabello, Tarek, Lusa, etc will go down to prison some day.
    Unfortunately, in Kleptozuela there won’t be a major crack-down as n Brazil now (see last 60 minutes episode), most thieves will get away.

    And then, the MUD will start stealing their share, as always in Kleptozuela, (AD, Copey..) crime won’t get much better in the next decades to come the economy in the dumpsters, for decades.

    Vzla is screwed, for a looooooooong time.

  10. One second, please–
    “The ANC, in use of the powers inherent to it, may limit or decide to cease the activities of the authorities that make up the Public Power.”

    Does this mean the ANC could kick Maduro out of office or at least limit his powers? If so, Maduro could lose big on this gambit.

    • That’s why he intends to commit a fraud to top all frauds, with this crooked election he wants to do, he’s thinking he’ll get 98-99% of all the constituents, much like shiabbe did back on 1999, where through one of the biggest electoral frauds of the history in this continent, he managed to seize almost all the seats for the ANC with barely more than 50% of the vote.

      • If there was some way to eliminate Tibisay and the others in the CNE, it would be hard for Maduro to rig the election. Can we buy her a one-way ticket to Cuba?

  11. “On the other hand, Maduro is so universally despised, he could lose even with these rules. Which, really, is the most remarkable fact of all.”

    you can’t lose an election if you don’t allow more than 1 candidate per seat, considering how rushed this thing is they will deploy their full arsenal to ban candidates: mass inhabilitations, jailings, or simply refusal of the cne to get any non psuv guy in the ballot.

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