PSUV supporters have headed to the polls today to vote in primaries ahead of December’s parliamentary elections. Venezuelans will be able to select from among a list of PSUV candidates who will represent their district in the December 6 parliamentary elections. The voting is taking place across 3,987 voting centres throughout the country.
At around 4:00 PM local time, the Centro Nacional Electoral announced in a television broadcast that voting hours would be extended until 8:00 PM to allow for everyone who wanted to vote to do so at the request of the PSUV. By the time of the new deadline, yet another was announced, as the CNE then extended voting hours again to 9:00 PM.
Primaries Off to Slow Start
TalCual noted widespread problems with the few voting machines that were available for voters in Caracas. For example, while 10,000 Venezuelans were registered to vote in the Escuela Republica del Ecuador, only two voting tables were open. Similarly, while 11,099 voters were registered in the Liceo Fermin Toro in the city’s El Silencio neighbourhood, only two voting tables were open.
The same article also noted anemic turnouts at some voting centres, at least in the morning. A voting centre in El Guataro in which 4,845 electors were registered to vote had only seen 502 people turn out by 1:00 PM. In the Altagracia neighbourhood, were 15,242 Venezuelans were registered to vote, only 1,142 had done so by 2:00 PM.
Maduro: “We Have A Right To Know Who Votes”
After reports began to trickle in through Twitter starting in the early morning that many voting sites – specially in Caracas – appeared relatively quiet, Maduro made a veiled threat to supporters while voting at the Liceo Miguel Antonio Caro in Caracas.
Maduro, who was accompanied by First Lady Celia Flores, told reporters shortly after voting at 1:00 PM:
We will have access to the list of the people who voted. We are going to exercise that right. There is, as you know, an electoral registry of everyone who participates in this process. We have that advantage. We know who votes and who doesn’t.
The comments appear to fly in the face of virtually-universal acceptance of the secret ballot and its importance to the democratic process. The ability to vote in secret – that is, without fear of anyone knowing who you voted for, or if you voted at all – is a fundamental pillar of democracy. The secret ballot is recognized as an integral part of freedom of expression and will by the American Convention on Human Rights.
Maduro explained why the PSUV believes it has the right to know who the identities of those who voted:
We are starting to work for December 6, and we’re going to have the list [of who voted] so that the candidates can call the ones who voted to organize the victory.
He also said:
This is democracy. This is the model of inclusion. More than an example, this process is an inspiration. We have opened the doors so that power can rest with out beloved people.
Below, some pictures of Maduro and Diosdado Cabello voting earlier today:
PSUV Primary Process Belies Official Assurances
In the weeks leading up to today’s primaries, PSUV officials heavily criticized the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica for electing only 42 of its 167 total candidates (choosing the other 125 by consensus) during its primaries on May 17. At the time, Jorge Rodriguez called the MUD elections “a fraud”, since the PSUV would hold primary elections to select 100% of its candidates.
As it turns out, only 52% of PSUV candidates for December’s parliamentary elections will be elected by vote today. The rest (54 individuals in total) will be selected by the PSUV national directorate by consensus, exactly as was done by the MUD.
The decision, which appears to have been previously unannounced, was defended by Hector Canorea, a television personality who has a show called Cantar de Gallos on the state-owned VTV channel:
Obviously, the party has its own mechanism to guarantee the quality of the revolutionary frameworks that go to the National Assembly. [This may be] a combination of the political necessities of a party that faces a right-wing that is constantly working towards a coup, and the people’s wisdom. The [PSUV] national directorate combines the decisions taken by its members (…) and the wisdom of the people.
Maduro Calls for Dialogue with Private Business
Maduro has called private business leaders to a special meeting to discuss the situation the Venezuelan economy finds itself in. He made the announcement last night during a ceremony at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas.
True to fashion, Maduro had harsh words for the very people he was calling to dialogue, saying:
I have little faith in the values of many of these multimillionaires and pelucones [a derogatory term meaning “aristocrat”, or “opposition supporter”]. I’ve spoken to many of them… and I’m willing to talk to them once more, because I have faith in the word, the faith and the great cause that Venezuelan symbolizes. I think some of them could listen and rectify their conduct.
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