Parliamentary Elections in Venezuela: Between Abstention and Popular Cohesion

Nominations, audits, debates and discontent among political parties currently mark the electoral course in the Caribbean country. The parliamentary elections in Venezuela have changed the political landscape that until now was played between two forces, the National Assembly (AN) and the National Constituent Assembly (ANC).

On December 6, elections will be held to renew the deputies in the AN. The current Parliament celebrates 5 years since the Venezuelan opposition won the elections for the first time -with 112 out of 167 seats- since the Bolivarian Revolution arrived in the country.

Following the announcement of the election date – on July 1 of this year – the process has gone through several stages. Sectors that oppose the government of Nicolás Maduro call for abstention while the popular forces unite to win the legislative terrain.

A fractured opposition amid parliamentary elections in Venezuela
The 27 opposition parties aligned with the self-proclaimed Juan Guaidó decided not to participate in the upcoming elections. They allege that they will call on the country’s social and political forces to build a new “unitary pact.”

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However, this strategy has not been supported by all the opposition. Other parties with more political experience say that the abstention strategy is wrong.

Henri Falcón, candidate for Avanzada Progresista, came in second in the 2018 presidential elections, and called for participation in the December elections. He was a participant in the National Dialogue Table where it was agreed that the voting would take place. “The pact to save Venezuela requires cunning, intelligence, agreements. The force of the vote brings down the government; abstention fastens it,” he tweeted.

“Who are they going to screw calling for abstention and nothingness? Maduro? Or the majority who want to get rid of this government?” he asked.

Along the same lines goes the Independent Electoral Political Organization Committee (COPEI). The national secretary general, Juan Carlos Alvarado, asserts that electoral participation is one of the options to begin to solve the many problems that currently exist in Venezuela.

These facts show that despite the proposal for a Unitary Agreement, the Venezuelan opposition is atomized. The scenario envisions an electoral result that is not very favorable for the sector that is adverse to the Venezuelan government.

The parliamentarians in Venezuela under the international gaze
On July 24, Norwegian Foreign Minister Dag Halvor announced that Scandinavian diplomats were in Caracas to “update themselves on the health and political situation of the South American nation.”

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro also communicated that “Jorge Rodríguez was meeting with them, he received them here and now he is coordinating what was left pending on the issue of the Norwegians.”

Thus, international support has not ceased to be important for Venezuela, as it has been applied in the 24 elections that have been held throughout the revolutionary process.

Cohesion of popular forces
According to the National Electoral Council (CNE) , more than 105 political parties are authorized to participate in the elections, of which 28 are national, 53 regional, six from national indigenous organizations and 18 from regional indigenous organizations, which accounts for the social breadth and not just the policy of the elected legislature. So far more than 4 audits of the electoral system have been carried out.

President Maduro has repeatedly called for participation as part of the democratic right of all citizens.

The member of the national leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Julio Chávez highlighted the cohesion of the forces related to the Bolivarian Revolution towards the elections.

Speaking to Unión Radio, Chávez stressed that at the base of the revolutionary forces, awareness will prevail over the political differences that may exist between the various political organizations.

“The need for strategic unity around the defense of sovereignty and independence will prevail; that will be the majority expression of the revolutionary base in the parliamentarians,” the PSUV leader added.

However, in the middle of the electoral contest, Venezuela is affected by another process, a boycott from the United States.

On August 17, during a videoconference with the National Directorate of the PSUV, the Venezuelan president warned that a global boycott is underway against the elections of the National Assembly (AN).

“We must confront them head-on, imperialism and its lackeys,” he said. Therefore, he instructed all the country’s intelligence, security and defense policies to be tuned up.

The electoral landscape will then be divided between a government that promotes participation, an abstentionist opposition and foreign interference.

Featured image: Digital composition by VTactual.


Translation: OT/JRE/EF

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