The head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, announced this afternoon that the regional elections originally scheduled to take place this year will not take place until at least mid-2017. Mayoral elections – which are also supposed to take place this year – were similarly delayed to the second half of 2017.

Lucena made the announced by saying:

Next year we’ve got our eyes on regional and municipal elections, as well as primaries and the renewal of the political parties’ documents.

For this reason, we’ve approved the 2017 electoral calendar, and it looks like this: the regional elections will happen at the end of the first semester of 2017, and the municipal elections will happen in the second semester of 2017.

Lucena provided no explanation for why these elections could not take place this year as mandated by law, nor did she provide actual dates for the electoral processes next year.

According to term limits set in the constitution, elections for governors and state assemblies must happen this year. Holding the elections next year will mean that anyone holding office as governor or state legislator will get to serve beyond the term limits that are allowed by law in Venezuela.

TSJ Sides With CNE, Makes Recall Process Harder for Oppostion

Last night, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued a ruling last night that will force to opposition to collect signatures from 20% of registered voters in each of the country’s 24 states as part of the recall effort against Maduro, significantly increasing the likelihood that the initiative will fail.

While the 20%-per-state requirement had already been announced by the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the entity in charge of elections in the country, the opposition had challenged the regulation at the country’s top court.

The opposition’s challenge was based on the fact that the CNE’s own internal regulations state that signatures in favour of a recall must be collected from the “pertinent circumscription”. What this means in practice is:

  • If you live in the city of Valencia and you want to recall the mayor of the city of Valencia, you must collect signatures from 20% of registered voters in the city of Valencia.
  • If you live in the state of Zulia and you want to recall the governor of the state of Zulia, you must collect signatures from 20% of registered voters in the state of Zulia.
  • If you live in Venezuela and you want to recall the President of Venezuela, you must collect signatures from 20% of registered voters in Venezuela.

Ordinarily, given the number of total registered voters in Venezuela, the opposition must collect approximately 4,000,000 signatures in the process which is scheduled to run from October 20 to the 23.

However, yesterday’s ruling means that even if the opposition collects more than 4,000,000 signatures, the recall effort will fail if it only collects signatures from 19.99% of voters in any one of the country’s 24 states.

Constitutional Lawyer: TSJ Decision “Arbitrarily Unconstitutional”

Constitutional legal expert Jose Vicente Haro responded to yesterday’s TSJ ruling by saying that the ruling was not only “irregular”, but also “arbitrarily unconstitutional”.

According to Haro, the most egregious part of the ruling is that it creates a new requirement for conduction recall elections even though article 72 of the Constitution already clearly states how recalls are to be conducted. In other words, Haro is suggesting that even though the matter should have been resolved with a simple reading of the constitution, the TSJ chose instead to ignore the document and create its own regulation.

Haro pointed out that the “permanent circumscription” for the office of President of the Republic is clearly the national level. He pointed out that this is evident in the way presidents are elected in Venezuela.

To be elected president, one has to win more than 50.00% of the vote from among all voters registered nationally, not from each individual state. This means that even if one state votes 99% in favour of Candidate A, Candidate B can still win so long as he/she earns more than 50.00% of the total national vote.

National Assembly Shut Down by Pro-PSUV Protest

PSUV supporters shut down the National Assembly building today in Caracas by building a stage near its front door in order to hold a demonstration in support of Maduro.

The rally forced today’s National Assembly session to be cancelled, since deputies were unable to safely enter and exit the building.

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