On May 4, 2021, the National Assembly appointed the 5 main rectors and 10 alternates who now make up the National Electoral Council (CNE). It is the first CNE formed according to the procedure established in the Constitution for three decades, since the previous administrations were appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice, given the impossibility of the parliaments of that time to approve a proposal in this regard.
In addition, the constitution of this new electoral body, which will govern the electoral processes for the next 7 years, was the product of a political agreement, as stated by the main leaders of both the Government and the opposition. It is made up of personalities linked to both the ruling party and different opposition sectors.. The main positions are held by: Pedro Calzadilla, Enrique Márquez, Tania D'Amelio, Roberto Picón and Alexis Corredor.
This fact occurs in a context where a part of the opposition had refused to participate in the electoral processes of the last three years to bow to an undemocratic agent, with coup attempts, ignorance of the institutions and even foreign invasion plans . The 2018 presidential elections they had a participation of around 46% of the electoral roll. The women parliamentarians of 2020 observed a participation of 31%.
In this sense, the news of an agreement that could lead to the reconstruction of the political space raises expectations.
That is why we decided to ask the readers of Últimas Noticias his opinion on the effect that the new conformation of the CNE would have on electoral participation. We carry out a digital survey on our web portal, latestnews.com.ve, and social media accounts, with the following question:
"What effect do you think the appointment of the new CNE will have?"
The options were: there will be greater participation of parties and voters, the participation of parties and voters will remain the same, there will be less participation of parties and voters.
Between Monday, April 10 and Friday, April 14, we obtained 640 observations and the results were as follows:
70,1% (449 people) believed that the formation of this new CNE will boost the participation of parties and voters. 106 people (16,6%) think that this designation will have no effect on participation and 13,3% (85 people) stated that the effect will be rather negative, that is, it will decrease participation.
At first glance, it is evident that the perception of the people about the new electoral authorities is mostly positive, and that the negative vision is concentrated in a small group of less than 15%.
These results seem to coincide with the general atmosphere that the news has produced in the statements of the political actors. President Nicolás Maduro applauded the fact and so did the opposition bench of the National Assembly. It also generated an effect outside our borders: the foreign ministers of the European Union they saw with good eyes to the new CNE and the president of the Foreign Committee of the US Congress said that Joe Biden should recognize to the electoral body and collaborate with the dialogue in Venezuela.
From the very day of the appointment, there were statements by political leaders announcing your participation in the next elections of governments and mayors, which will take place on November 21.
The new CNE has been a first step in the renewal of the Venezuelan political scene. It was even one of the points that the United States government established as necessary for a possible relaxation of the blockade imposed on our country.
From transaction to expectation
As political phenomena always require a critical and broad look, which values the context elements to generate a more useful interpretation, we consulted the sociologist and political analyst Ociel López, to help us in our analysis.
The first thing he says is that we would have to dig a little deeper and analyze opinions according to political bias. That is, what do the Chavistas think and what the opponents think. He thinks that perhaps the majority of those who responded that the CNE will have a positive effect on participation identify with Chavismo. And in this sense, he points out that grassroots Chavismo could be seeing the CNE's designation as something “transactional”, since it has a lot of trust in the institutions. "He does not see it yet as a strategic turn, as I do, in the sense that Maduro made a bet, but may not have made it." Chavismo should be reminded that greater participation would most likely mean that the opposition gains more political spaces than it currently has and, therefore, that Chavismo loses them.
It refers to the fact that the Chavista majority in the National Assembly could have chosen another composition for the new CNE, but the appointment was made by agreement with the opposition. "The importance of the new directive is that it included even radical opposition people, who had been imprisoned, and that was a super interesting twist, because no one can say that Roberto Picón is a sold or a delivered", he analyzes.
It considers that, consequently, this plural conformation of the electoral referee “makes the sector abstain, and by this I am not referring to the opposition only, but to the 70% that abstained in the last elections, and the 55 that abstained in the last elections. Presidential elections, he should feel some minimum of encouragement, of enthusiasm, for the measure, at least some expectation.
A political challenge
Professor López explains that a possible greater participation of voters in the next elections it will depend directly on the actions of the political parties, both Chavismo and the opposition, to guarantee less abstention. “I don't imagine that the CNE itself can define that, there is no automatic relationship there; Maybe it does give some confidence, but above all to political actors, so it will depend on them ”.
In the case of the opposition, he commented that he was struck by the fact that, just the day after the new CNE was met, politicians like Carlos Ocariz came out to ask for an “internal re-legitimation of the opposition”; the next Guaidó spoke of reach agreements with the Government, the Democratic Action of Ramos Allup said it would go to elections, among other similar events. "So we understand that yes, the blow of the CNE was felt." He reiterated that, although it is possible that the expectation is greater in the political actors than in the bases, it is evident that "this week's scenario is already diametrically different from last week."
These facts, according to his analysis, show that political actors have a very clear map. He says that "everything they have done is on the way to reinstitutionalization." The points have been put on the table and important elements have been negotiated, although some are missing. "There are other issues, but I don't think there is a different schedule from the constitutional one."
Lastly, he expressed the opinion that, in this spirit of reinstitutionalization and with regard to the confidence that the new Electoral Power will be able to consolidate in the country, political parties could hold internal elections and re-legitimize their leadership. “It would be very interesting a process of democracy in all the parties, without exception; that would imply an important change in the current political environment ”.