Elections in Venezuela: Chavismo seeks to interfere in the opposition primaries through the CNE | International

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María Corina Machado, leader of the polls for the primaries, at a campaign event.LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA (REUTERS)

Chavismo has played a new card to complicate the opposition. After having ruled out the technical assistance of the National Electoral Council (CNE) in the primary process, the new board of directors of the entity has launched a bait one month before the consultation to offer comprehensive technical services to the Unitary Platform - the opposition alliance - and to the organizing committee. Last June, the opposition decided to advance with the process in a self-managed manner, after the untimely resignation of the CNE rectors in a maneuver by Chavismo. Although they had been negotiating some type of support, with the change of command those possibilities were left in limbo. The new board, chosen a few weeks ago and chaired by Elvis Amoroso, who promoted the disqualifications of several of the opposition candidates, published a statement this Friday announcing its support for the process.

The CNE's participation in the primaries has been a pain point for the opposition. The candidate María Corina Machado, who by far leads the voting intention in the race to choose Nicolás Maduro's opponent, had expressed her rejection of the agency's intervention, based on the distrust that has been aroused in recent years about its transparency. and impartiality. Other sectors, such as that represented by Henrique Capriles Radonsky, were in favor of relying on the official electoral infrastructure to guarantee greater participation and have more resources in a process that would be difficult for the opposition to finance.

The change of rectors announced by surprise by the Government precipitated the consensus of all the actors, who began to row towards the same side: primaries with manual voting, organized by civil society. On June 5, the organizing commission had requested a meeting with the CNE to ratify the technical information on the guarantees for the protection of voters' identity, and once confirmed, make a formal request for technical assistance. But the response never came, so the request was not made. That is why it is strange that the CNE now claims that it is responding to it. Capriles then said, in view of the changes, that self-managing the primaries was the right decision. “There was no other alternative, the process could not continue to be delayed,” he wrote on his social networks. And Machado, who had asked for a manual vote from the beginning, celebrated the decision. “It is an achievement of the people.”

Now the opposition is once again faced with the dilemma. The National Primary Commission has indicated that it will consult the 13 candidates who registered to have a common position on the measure announced by the CNE. In his statement, the Venezuelan electoral referee recalls that the law gives him powers to organize the elections of unions and civil society organizations "at their request or by order of the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice", which opens the door to the discretion of the Judiciary (in the hands of Chavismo) to decide on the opposition process.

The Unitary Platform has allowed the participation of candidates disqualified by the Government and registered nearly 400,000 Venezuelans abroad to allow them to vote where they reside. It is not clear if when the CNE enters the game it allows the participation of these politicians, among whom Machado, Capriles and Freddy Superlano, and that the vote abroad counts for the result. So far none of the candidates to lead the unitary candidacy against Maduro has established a position on this new movement, but the Venezuelan opposition is once again in decisive hours.

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