Supreme Court Orders CNE to Suspend Vote Recount in Barinas & Hold New Election in January

Caracas, November 30, 2021 (OrinocoTribune.com)—This Monday, November 29, Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) Electoral Chamber issued a ruling requesting that the elections for governor in Barinas state be redone in January. Some analysts interpret that the ruling also stipulates that opposition (MUD) candidate Freddy Superlano is ineligible to hold public office, according to a comptroller’s office administrative decision from August 17 of this year.

On Sunday, November 21, a few hours after regional and municipal elections were held in Venezuela, National Electoral Council (CNE) president, Pedro Calzadilla, read the preliminary results. In the case of Barinas state he announced that opposition (MUD) candidate, Freddy Superlano was defeated by obtaining 92,414 vote, 683 less votes that the PSUV incumbent candidate Argenis Chávez, brother of late Hugo Chávez, who received 93,097 votes.

On the morning of Tuesday, November 21, Freddy Superlano flooded social media platforms in Venezuela claiming his supporters have the ballots of each vote proving their victory. At that time they also requested the recounting of votes and sent supporters into the street of Barinas, the capital city of Barinas state, creating public disorder that did not escalate.

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Less than 24 hours later the CNE announced that a recount would be carried out by its office in Barinas, and the results on CNE’s website presenting Argenis Chávez as the winner were removed. A notice was added stating that total results were being awaited. During that week, the results remain uncertain, an unusual delay for Venezuelan elections. However, on Friday, November 26 the board of rectors of the CNE in Caracas announced they took the decision of suspending the counting process being held by its regional office in Barinas, and taking direct control of the counting process in Caracas.

Adolfo Superlano (no blood relation with the candidate), is a former opposition deputy that was expelled by his political party Cambiemos in 2019 after joining the opposition faction in the Venezuelan National Assembly led by Luis Parra, known as the “rebellion of the regions,” achieving the removal of former deputy Juan Guaidó as president of the Venezuelan parliament. Adolfo Superlano is currently labelled by the extreme-right opposition represented in the G4/MUD as “alacran” a pejorative adjective used to stigmatize opposition politicians who separated from the G4 and decided to join the National Dialogue Table launched by President Nicolas Maduro.

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On Monday, November 29, Adolfo Superlano held a press conference announcing that he filed a legal motion on Friday, November 26, requesting the TSJ to determine the reason for the lack of results on the elections for Barinas governor. He also pointed out that Freddy Superlano, the opposition (MUD) candidate, was declared by the General Comptroller Office ineligible to run for public office, despite the fact that according to local media, the administrative measure was lifted due to agreements reached between the extreme-right opposition and the Venezuelan government during the Mexico Talks, to facilitate the participation of this political group in the 21N regional elections.

Thus, on Monday, November 29 the Electoral Chamber of Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice admitted a Constitutional protection action filed with a request for precautionary measures against opposition (MUD) candidate for governor in Barinas State, Freddy Superlano. The decision is based on a resolution of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, dated August 17, 2021, by which it disqualified candidate Freddy Superlano from the exercise of any public office  based on a 2013 decision.

Venezuelan electoral authorities had previously established a timeline to review candidates’ eligibility to run as candidates, which expired on September 22. Freddy Superlano had not received any objections from any political or institutional body. Following the ruling, according to some interpretations of the TSJ’s statement, Freddy Superlano will not be able to run for any publicly elected position.

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice also issued a directive to the National Electoral Council (CNE) to hold new elections for governor of Barinas on January 9, 2022, to guarantee equal conditions for the participation of voters “even when the projections set forth by the CNE give a percentage of votes in favor of the candidate Freddy Superlano, of 37.60% compared to the 37.21% of votes obtained by the candidate Argenis Chávez. It is considered that the condition of ineligibility of Superlano violates the principles of equality, equity and transparency in the participation of candidates, as well as voters in the exercise of active suffrage.”

This quote of the ruling above allow other interpretations to consider that the Court is stating that declaring Freddy Superlano’s ineligibility will violate principles of equality, equity, and transparency. The writing style of the ruling has opened a debate about Freddy Superlano’s elegibility to run again as MUD candidate the rerun elections.

Many analysts agree on this TSJ decision being very controversial, regardless of the uncertainty of Superlano’s ability to run again. It is not the first time the highest Venezuelan tribunal issues a ruling that, instead of adding to the relatively peaceful environment of Venezuelan politics, could revive confrontational scenarios that many in Venezuela wish not to live again. In 2017, one of the igniters for the violent opposition protest (guarimbas) was another controversial TSJ ruling.

For now many analysts advise waiting for additional TSJ clarifications, and following the MUD candidate press conference planned for Tuesday,

 

Featured image: Venezuela’s Supreme Court headquarters in Caracas. File photo.

Special for Orinoco Tribune by Jesús Rodríguez Espinoza

Translation: Orinoco Tribune

OT/JRE/SL

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