The new National Electoral Council of Venezuela has announced this Thursday, a week after being formed, that the elections for governors and mayors will be held on November 21. The announcement comes in a week of intense political charge in which, first, the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, raised a schedule that included a presidential election and, a day later, the president, Nicolás Maduro, claimed to be willing to meet with Guaidó and all the opposition. The country thus re-enters a new electoral crossroads that previously divided the opposition, but now in the midst of a new attempt at direct negotiations between different sides to find a way out of the long-standing Venezuelan institutional crisis.
Among the periods established in the electoral calendar, there is a first key date: August 29, the deadline for presenting candidates. It is the horizon on which the different factors of the opposition will have to decide whether or not to participate in this new electoral appointment despite the failings of origin of the new referee chosen by a National Assembly that was not recognized internationally, after the questioned elections of the past 6 December 2020. Some factions, however, including those that support Guaidó in the so-called Unitary Platform, are in deliberations about this new scenario, after having opted en bloc for abstention in the legislative elections and, partially, in the elections. regional and municipal passes of 2017.
The new CNE is behind a negotiation effort by some sectors such as the Civil Forum, which have managed to incorporate among the 15 members of the governing body 4 who represent civil society and the opposition. One of them, Roberto Picón, appointed as main rector, was the opposition’s electoral technician when he conquered the Assembly in 2015 and was imprisoned for alleged treason. Today he is sitting in that institution.
Guaidó and most of the forces that accompany him have ignored these appointments, ensuring that the changes made do not guarantee free and fair elections. The international community has described it as a “first step”, although not enough to unblock the conflict. Guaidó’s group has thrown the ball at Maduro by proposing a pact that includes presidential and legislative elections, precisely the ones that have not been called in this announcement, in exchange for the progressive lifting of the sanctions that have suffocated the financial apparatus of Chavismo. It remains to be seen whether, within the framework of those negotiations that are about to begin – and which could be mediated by Norway and other actors such as the European Union – elections will be held at that level.
Days ago, the new electoral referee announced the carrying out of comprehensive audits of the voting system and the electoral roll, as well as the convocation of international observers, including those from the European Union and the review of the disqualifications of parties and possible candidates. In six months, those remaining until November 21, the opposition should push for greater guarantees to be able to participate.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.