A version of this piece was originally published in Cinco8.
The Legislative Elections of December 6th
This Sunday, elections are scheduled in Venezuela to choose the officials of the National Assembly for the next five years. The Lima Group, the International Contact Group and many other organizations in the country have attested that this process lacks the minimum requirements to be considered legitimate. The European Union even did an effort to convince Maduro of postponing the elections until the proper conditions were met—and Maduro didn’t budge.
As we’ve already explained, all candidates on the ballot are chavistas joined by their “official opposition”. The actual opposition decided not to run. Its main reasons: The new National Electoral Council was elected through the (very chavista) Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) and it isn’t an impartial actor; several opposition parties and even leaders have been outlawed, jailed, politically disqualified or pushed into exile; through the TSJ, chavismo took over many opposition parties; the registry of voters isn’t updated or debugged; migrants cannot vote; the secrecy of the vote isn’t guaranteed.
Voting also means exposure to coronavirus, and the regime hasn’t been shy on how far it’s willing to go regarding intimidation and the use of social assistance programs as a method of coercion, like the CLAP food program. According to the regime, 250,000 soldiers will provide logistical support, as customary in Venezuela, yet our PRR sources question the accuracy of the operation, given the dire conditions of the Armed Forces.
Finally, for this election, the National Assembly was modified to favor the chavista representation. Violating the Constitution, the number of seats was unilaterally expanded from 167 to 277.
The regime hasn’t been shy on how far it’s willing to go regarding intimidation and the use of social assistance programs as a method of coercion, like the CLAP food program.
The ‘Consulta Popular’ from December 7th to December 12th
The allied parties and movements in the majority of today’s National Assembly have announced an Operation Against Fraud, to be held during December 5th and 6th: Two rounds of demonstrations and complaints, during which voters are called to refrain from showing up at the CNE voting centers. This “popular consultation” will develop in two stages. The digital stage, from December 7th to the 12th, consists of answering three questions from wherever you are in the world, on a digital platform (consultaporvzla.com) and through a blockchain app (Voatz, already used in the U.S.) that will only be available starting December 7th. The physical stage, only done in Venezuela, consists of your personal attendance to consultation centers still to be announced. The CNE will have nothing to do with all of this, and it’s the opposition alliance who will check the results. To our knowledge, there’s no impartial third party to certify the processes. The app registers each voter according to their biometrics, so there wouldn’t be the possibility of voting twice. The opposition also says that the system is verifiable, careful about protecting the secrecy of the vote, and all data will be encrypted and protected on servers abroad. The physical books and tallies of physical events will be destroyed once the data is transferred.
We’ll see what the final outcome will be, but everything points to this: both the regime and the opposition will provide numbers no one can certify, and a new National Assembly will be installed in January with no real opposition sitting at it. Once again, the little attention Venezuelans are willing to pay to politics will turn, next year, to international actors: more specifically, what the Biden administration will do in terms of sanctions on Venezuela, and in exchange for what.
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