With the first step in the recall referendum process against Maduro officially over as of this past Friday, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) announced this weekend that it intends to push the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) to move on to the second step of the process immediately.
The second step of the recall process requires the collection of signatures from 20% of the electorate, which equals approximately four million people.
National Assembly MUD deputy Freddy Guevara revealed the MUD’s next steps in an interview broadcast on Televen earlier today. Guevara said:
We are going to start a campaign to start collecting the 20% [of signatures so that we can] start getting that ready. We are going to go around the country to organize all Venezuelans to create all of the [ signature collection centres]….
The recall referendum is an incredibly complex and convoluted process in Venezuela. It is essentially broken up into three steps:
- Collecting signatures from 1% of voters (with the CNE adding that the 1% figure must be met by each state).
- Collecting signatures from 20% of voters.
- Actually holding the recall referendum, in which more people have to vote to recall Maduro than those who voted for him.
The MUD is hoping that the CNE will give the go-ahead for the second step in the process to begin within a month, although the electoral body’s past behaviour makes that possibility less-than-certain.
However, Guevara remains optimistic that even if the CNE delays the process as much as it possibly can, the referendum can still take place this year:
In August or September we could have a recall in the country. Let’s say October, maximum. There’s no way for them to delay the process until next year.
Guevara also said that despite the PSUV’s repeated statements that the recall referendum will never take place, or that if it does it will do so next year, that is not for them to decide:
Whether or not there’s a recall doesn’t depend on them [the government]. It depends on the people of Venezuela. The MUD didn’t do this: it was the people who gave [the PSUV] a beating because they are tired of going hungry.
The CNE will take at least 20 days to decide whether or not the 409,313 signatures Venezuelans validated in favour of holing the referendum are enough to move on to the second step of the process. The CNE only asked for 197,721 signatures for this first step.
Questions Over CNE’s Timeline
The head of electoral matters at the MUD, Vicente Bello, pointed out that the CNE already has all of the information that it needs in order to announce immediately whether or not the signatures validated last week are enough to move on to the second step of the recall process or not.
For Bello, there is no logical reason why the CNE to take 20 days to audit the validated signatures, because the validation process is carried out through sophisticated machines that feed information to the CNE in real time. In other words, the CNE already knows if the first step of the recall process was successful or not.
Even though the [CNE] rectors say they will make an announcement on this step on July 26, we believe that the conditions allow for [that announcement] to be made earlier. Anything else is [the CNE] wasting time. it doesn’t make sense for them to take so long.
Bello also pointed out that the exact same auditing process the CNE claims will take 20 days this time took exactly 4 days during the parliamentary elections of last year. Bello explained:
This type of audit takes four days, as was the case during the December 6 [parliamentary] elections. This phase could be done by June 30 at the latest. They will verify three things: first, that those who validated [their signatures had indeed signed]. Second, that a single elector did not validate two or more times, and third, that the fingerprints match the I.D. numbers.
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