Government's Offer to Opposition Primaries
The Venezuelan government has recently signaled its willingness to provide technical assistance to the opposition alliance, Plataforma Unitaria, for their impending primary elections. This proposal has emerged despite the initial decline from the National Electoral Council (CNE) to aid in the process. The opposition had decided to proceed independently after the sudden resignation of CNE's directors, a move perceived to be influenced by the government. The new board, under the leadership of Elvis Amoroso who has been implicated in the disqualification of several opposition candidates, announced their support for the primaries.
Mixed Reactions from the Opposition
The leading candidate in the primary polls, María Corina Machado, has been vocal about her opposition to the involvement of the CNE, raising concerns about its transparency and impartiality. However, other factions, such as those headed by Henrique Capriles Radonsky, favored utilizing the official electoral infrastructure. They argue this would ensure wider participation and additional resources in a process that would be financially challenging for the opposition to manage.
Shift in CNE's Position
The unexpected shift in leadership at the CNE drove a consensus among all players to opt for a primary organized by civil society, using manual voting. On June 5, the organizing committee requested a meeting with the CNE to confirm technical details concerning voter identity protection. However, no response was received, leaving the request for formal technical assistance unfiled. This makes the current offer of assistance from the CNE rather perplexing.
The opposition now finds itself in a quandary. The National Primary Commission intends to consult with the 13 registered candidates to establish a unified stance on the CNE's offer. In its statement, the CNE cites that Venezuelan law permits it to organize elections for unions and civil society organizations either upon request or by order of the Supreme Court's Electoral Chamber. This could potentially pave the way for the pro-government judiciary to exert influence over the opposition's process.
Implications for Disqualified Candidates and Voters Abroad
The Plataforma Unitaria has permitted candidates disqualified by the government to participate and has registered approximately 400,000 Venezuelans abroad to enable them to vote where they dwell. It remains uncertain whether the involvement of the CNE would allow the participation of these politicians, including Machado, Capriles, and Freddy Superlano, and whether votes from abroad would count towards the result. Thus far, none of the opposition candidates have taken a stance on this new development, but it is an important moment for the Venezuelan opposition.