By Ociel Alí López – 27 Sep, 2023
In Venezuela, the possibilities of dialogue between the Unitary Platform (PU), a coalition that gathers together the main opposition parties, and the current government and its institutional framework have been reopened.
In a joint statement, the new president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Elvis Amoroso, and the president of the National Primary Commission (CNP), Jesús María Casal, announced the creation of a mixed commission to try to involve the electoral body in the internal process of the opposition to determine its presidential candidate.
In this regard, Amoroso stated: “It was a very professional meeting, of exchange, and it was agreed to install a joint commission between the CNE and the Unitary Platform to start discussing all the technical aspects of an electoral process.”
In mid-June, when all the CNE rectors resigned, the CNP decided to carry out its internal election without the technical support of the electoral body.
This decision left the door open for the internal process of the opposition to be carried out in a “paralegal” framework since it will allow the participation of candidates who were disqualified by the institutions of the state. For the same reason, the possibilities of the PU deciding to abstain in the presidential election, constitutionally scheduled for 2024, would widen.
However, the new meeting with the CNE reopens the possibility of a future agreement: “We have appeared at this invitation and we will also appear before this joint commission to have a dialogue in relation to the progress of the primary process and the collaboration that the CNE can provide,” said Casal.
The meeting between Amoroso and Casal raises expectations for agreements that will bring about a definitive political and economic normalization for Venezuela.
Economic normalization would also be expected, because, as has been stated by various representatives of the Venezuelan state, any agreement requires the easing of sanctions that weigh on the Venezuelan productive apparatus.
On Friday, prior to the meeting, the CNE—including rectors close to PU parties—had unanimously approved the provision of technical services to the opposition coalition for the primary process.
Two weeks ago, the general coordinator of the PU, Omar Barboza, had announced that negotiations were underway in search of a political agreement to generate “conditions” for the 2024 presidential elections.
Thus, there are signs that there are possibilities of reaching firm agreements, although it is feasible that these are the last chances to finalize them, since the electoral schedule is upon us.
“Between the government and the Platform delegation there are talks,” said Barboza. “We cannot give details so as not to create false expectations. There is an international community that is promoting an agreement. We are discussing to reach agreements.”
Critical issues: number of voting centers and disqualifications
The critical knots in the technical-electoral dimension, that is to say, what is being publicly discussed between the CNE and the CNP, is the technical support of the electoral institution to exponentially increase the number of polling stations and voting centers.
This is an internal debate within the opposition. Some moderate spokespersons have publicly stated that an election without the muscle and support of the electoral body will leave vast working-class territories deprived, a reality that would give their strong supporters—the middle class and urbanized sectors—a greater power of decision and would harm some parties of the coalition.
On the other hand, the most radical sectors of the right wing establishment criticize that the CNE, an organization that was not recognized by the opposition and whose dissolution in 2018 became one of the central opposition demands to participate in the elections, is now organizing its internal elections.
Spokespersons of these sectors of the radical right still do not recognize the existing institution and reject any collaboration with the state entities. This flank, moreover, is the one that most strongly encouraged abstentionism and Guaidó’s parallel government.
Due to the financial and media strength of the latter sector—which is against the CNE and insists on the participation of disqualified candidates—the PU runs the risk of not participating in the 2024 presidential elections and repeating the history of 2018, when all sectors lined up to call for abstention.
The absence of electoral participation and the strategy of setting up a parallel government was a failed approach for the opposition, leaving it without representation in the National Assembly and saddled with one of its most significant political defeats in recent political history.
We still do not know if the opposition will manage to align itself to bring back its followers to the electoral arena or, on the contrary, will again abstain for participating in the political process. That is the internal debate.
The primaries are scheduled to be held in less than a month (October 22), and the presidential elections are constitutionally scheduled for 2024, although the government could propose to bring them forward. The timetable is getting closer and the time in which to finalize negotiations is shortening.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Ociel Ali Lopez
Ociel Alí López is a political analyst, professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and contributor to various Venezuelan, Latin American, and European outlets. His book Dale más Gasolina won the municipal literature award in social research.
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