Gerardo Blyde, the electoral campaign chief at the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), said in a radio interview today that the opposition believes that voter turnout for this Sunday’s gubernatorial election will be approximately 60%.
During the interview, Blyde appealed to Venezuelans to see Sunday’s vote as “the moment to demonstrate [our] democratic character”, and as an opportunity to protest against the Maduro regime.
The matter of participating in the October 15 gubernatorial election has caused much debate within opposition circles. While some see the election as an opportunity to express discontent with the Maduro regime, others see it as an act that will legitimize the dictatorship.
A turnout of 60% in the Sunday elections would be an improvement from the last regional vote, which was held in 2012 and saw a voter turnout of 53.94%.
During the same interview, Blyde made it clear to listeners that voting on Sunday would not help remove Maduro from power. However, Blyde argued that Venezuelans should jump on any opportunity to beat Maduro, saying:
We won’t fall into false promises and say that we’re going to get rid of Maduro [on Sunday], but we will defeat him just as we did in the parliamentary [election] of 2015.
The 2015 parliamentary election was a turning point in the history of Bolivarian Venezuela, since it saw the ruling chavista party suffer the largest electoral defeat in its history. Earning just 40% of the votes, the ruling PSUV party lost its majority at the National Assembly.
Diario Las Americas Outlines 10 Electoral Irregularities
The Diario Las Americas published an article yesterday in which it outlined 10 electoral irregularities heading into Sunday’s gubernatorial vote. Regime critics have been pointing to these irregularities for weeks as clear evidence that the PSUV is desperately trying to steal the election.
Below, my summary of the 10 irregularities outlined in the article:
- The election is incomplete as per the law. This is because constitutional term limits demand that the election–which should have taken place last year–elect governors, state legislators and mayors. However, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) is only allowing Venezuelans to vote for governors.
- The MUD does not appear on the ballot. In this respect, the Maduro regime appears to have learned its lesson from the 2015 parliamentary election, in which opposition candidates ran under a unified MUD banner. For Sunday’s vote, the CNE refused to allow the MUD to run its candidates in the same way, meaning that every opposition candidate appears under the banner of his or her respective party–of which there are dozens. The purpose of this move appears to be to cause confusion among voters to erode the opposition vote.
- The regime did not allow for the substitution of candidates after the MUD primary. This means that there are opposition candidates on the ballot who are no longer running, because they dropped out in favour of the primary winners. As a result, it is likely that a non-trivial number of Venezuelans will inadvertently throw out their votes by casting ballots for individuals who are no longer running. This move disproportionately affects opposition candidates.
- The regime is not allowing observers to participate in the election, and did not conduct a rehearsal as in previous elections. The CNE has refused to grant observer status to organizations that have undertaken the task for the past ten years, and has done little to inform Venezuelans about the vote.
- The regime has not been clear about who will work the election. Instead of randomly choosing electoral workers as in previous elections, the CNE has only said that it will rely on the same people who worked the 2015 parliamentary elections. However, it is not clear how many of these people have been contacted, which ones have agreed to participate in the election, and how those who refuse will be replaced.
- PSUV candidates are openly campaigning using state funds. This is a violation of Venezuelan law, but the CNE is refusing to enforce the law. This fact gives an unfair advantage to PSUV candidates, who have essentially unlimited campaign funds.
- The CNE will not use indelible ink to help prevent voter fraud, and has eliminated standards for assisted voting. By refusing to use indelible ink, the task of voting more than once will become easier for those who wish to do so. Unlike in previous elections, the CNE has removed standards for assisted voting. This fact will make it easier for PSUV officials to check which candidates voters selected.
- The CNE has modified the electoral roll illegally. In Tachira state alone, the CNE removed 17,325 voters from the electoral roll well beyond the legal limit, effectively disenfranchising people for no clear reason.
- The CNE has drastically cut electoral infrastructure. Sunday’s election will count on 75 fewer centres and 7,000 fewer voting tables than in the 2012 regional election, even though there are more registered voters for Sunday’s vote.
- Some voting centres are named after chavista slogans and individuals. Venezuelan law prohibits biased voting centres, meaning that voting centres cannot be named after politicians or political parties, and no political proselytizing can take place within a certain distance of them. However, many voting centres for Sunday’s vote have pro-regime names. This means that some voters will cast their ballots in centres that have names like, “The Legacy of Chavez”, “Eternal Commander Hugo Chavez”, or “I’m With Chavez and Maduro”.
Maduro regime officials and their supporters often point to the fact that there are elections in Venezuela as evidence that the country is a democracy. However, regime critics are quick to point out that elections are meaningless unless they are conducted in a free and fair manner.
Venezuela’s Third Satellite Now in Orbit
The Antonio Jose de Sucre satellite–Venezuela’s third–was launched into orbit in the overnight hours by a Chinese rocket from Jiuaquan, in the central Gansu province. The satellite will transmit radio and television signals.
Maduro applauded the successful launch of the satellite, saying:
This is the path of the fatherland and independent scientific development. This represents a civil-military effort. This is why we’re building a diplomacy of peace, for national development with the world’s emerging powers.
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