The president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela, Pedro Calzadilla, resigned this Thursday (15), starting a renewal process in the body.

The main director of the institution, Alexis Corredor, also submitted his resignation, along with all alternate directors. The joint announcement of the departure of the authorities from office legally obliges the National Assembly of Venezuela to initiate a renewal process at the CNE.

During a short statement held this Thursday at the agency’s headquarters, in downtown Caracas, Calzadilla did not present reasons for his resignation, he only said that he will remain in office until the Legislature concludes the process of defining new directors.

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“For Venezuela to finish adjusting to the path of economic prosperity and political and social stability from which we were illegally diverted, it depends a lot on the commitment and national will of all,” he said.

The CNE board is made up of five authorities, including the president. Since 2021, the year the body was last reformed, three of the five directors are close to the government and the other two are linked to the opposition. The conformation was the result of agreements between Chavismo and the Venezuelan right linked to former deputy Juan Guaidó.

The next renewal of the Electoral Council was discussed in Parliament in this Thursday’s session. In voting, the National Assembly set up a commission of 11 deputies that will have the task of choosing the names for the Committee of Postulations to the CNE.

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The process should work as follows: legal entities from civil society, parties and law schools from Venezuelan universities must present candidates for open positions in the electoral body. The names will be analyzed by the committee of 11 deputies and then voted on in session of Parliament.

Despite this Thursday’s legislative work having advanced in the reformulation process, Parliament still left doubts regarding how many directors will be replaced. This is because, so far, the two CNE officials linked to the opposition – Enrique Márquez and Roberto Picón – have not submitted their resignations. Even so, deputies who conducted today’s session referred to the reform as “the exchange of the five deans” of the body.

Weaken primaries or wave to the US?

Calzadilla’s departure and the rapid start of the CNE reform process took the Venezuelan political world by surprise. The absence of clear reasons for the resignation cast doubt on the intention of the directors close to the government and even the participation of the institution in the process of opposition primaries.

Gathered in what they call the Unitary Platform, the main right-wing opposition parties in Venezuela are organizing an internal electoral process to try to define a single presidential candidate for the 2024 election. weeks, the Primaries Commission announced that the parties had reached a consensus on using CNE resources to carry out the vote.

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O Brazil in fact heard from sources linked to the Venezuelan opposition organized in another coalition, called the Democratic Alliance, which does not participate in the primaries, and sources that make up the governing base. According to those consulted, the changes in the CNE may be linked to two factors: a government strategy to weaken the internal process of the right of choosing a unified name for the presidential elections or a kind of agreement between government supporters and opponents to meet the demands manifested. for the right at the dialogue table in Mexico and, with that, achieve the elimination of sanctions.

During the negotiations in Mexico and especially at the summit held in Colombia in April, the US stated that one of the conditions for easing the economic blockade would be the reformulation of the Venezuelan electoral body.

“It is too early to say, we would have to analyze the names indicated by the commission of deputies. If there are moderate figures there and if the balance in the body is respected, then we can think that dialogues are taking place in that sense”, said one of the sources.

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“It is possible that the government now nominates figures who are associated with a harder camp of Chavismo and that would divide opinions within the opposition about participating in primaries organized by the CNE,” said another person interviewed by the Brazil in fact. “On the other hand, if the names that appear on the lists are a little more unknown, even if they are Chavistas, that could mean the hypothesis of an agreement”.

After the Legislative session, the president of the opposition Primary Commission, Jesús Maria Casal, said that he would organize a meeting this Thursday to define what the next steps would be, but guaranteed that the internal elections will take place with or without the support of the CNE.

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho


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