The National Assembly (AN) of Venezuela announced on Thursday afternoon (24) the new direction of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of the country. The profiles of the five new directors chosen maintain the balance that existed in the previous direction between government and opposition, since three of them would be closer to chavismo and the other two would be closer to opposition parties. Despite the majority being pro-government, the composition is considered by analysts as balanced, since it was the result of negotiations between the political forces.
The appointment of the new board had been expected since June, when the former president of the institution, Pedro Calzadilla, resigned and led to the departure of the other four directors. The movement forced the Venezuelan Legislature to initiate a selection process that involved 153 candidates nominated by the legal community and civil society.
The resignation of the five former directors of the body and the rapid start of the CNE reform process took the Venezuelan political world by surprise. Some sectors of the opposition even accused the government of wanting to interfere in the electoral process and other political actors raised the possibility that the changes were part of an agreement that would also involve the US.
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After this Thursday’s legislative session, the President of Parliament, Jorge Rodríguez, confirmed that the new leadership was the result of a dialogue “between all those who consider the electoral route” as the only political option and that “we all had to give in a little ” in the composition of the organ. Questioned about US participation in the negotiations, the deputy neither denied nor confirmed and limited himself to asking for an end to sanctions.
Sources linked to the process heard by Brasil de Fato indicated that the choice of new CNE directors was approved by Washington, in exchange for the relaxation of some sanctions linked to the energy sector. “The licenses are an exchange. CNE with two opposition parties and release of some sanctions”, said one of the sources consulted by the report.
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Reforms in the Venezuelan electoral body had been demanded by the US in recent months in debate spaces in which Washington participated. During the Bogotá Summit, convened in April by Colombian President Gustavo Petro, President Joe Biden’s delegation directly mentioned the need to reform the CNE to carry out specific relief.
Still according to the sources, the new leadership of the CNE should soon announce the date of the next presidential elections, expected to take place in 2024. as he needs to take advantage of licenses granted by the US,” said one of the sources.
Check and balance: the new CNE
Among the names chosen for the body’s new direction is the current Comptroller General of the Republic, Elvis Amoroso, who was once a deputy for the ruling PSUV party and vice-president of the National Constituent Assembly elected in 2017. According to sources heard by Brasil de Fato , Amoroso would represent a more ideological sector linked to the government and would be the most quoted to be the next president of the CNE.
His performance at the head of the Comptroller General could generate noise among the new management, according to the sources, since it was during his administration that opponents such as Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado were prohibited from holding public office for 15 years. However, the presence of names considered more technical would reduce conflicts.
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Among these profiles is engineer Carlos Quintero, a CNE employee for almost 20 years. Despite being considered close to chavismo, Quintero has already participated in at least 19 electoral processes, occupying various positions in the institution, such as director of electoral registration, director of information technology and member of the National Electoral Board, in addition to being an alternate director in three different terms.
The two names linked to opposing parties are also considered technical staff. Juan Carlos Delpino returns to the CNE after being director of Political Participation in 2011, full director in the same year and alternate director in 2020. In 2010, Delpino even worked as electoral coordinator for the opposition party Acción Democratica (AD) and would have connections with the legend ever since.
Lawyer Aimé Nogal, on the other hand, was a member of the Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) party and until a few months ago was part of the commission that organizes the opposition primaries. Specialist in Civil Law, it is the first time that Nogal assumes functions in the CNE. Her presence, according to sources close to the process, increases the influence of the UNT party, which is betting on Manuel Rosales to run for President.
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Current governor of the state of Zulia, Rosales stands out as a concrete option to represent a unified candidacy that the opposition seeks to achieve, since he is not prohibited by the Justice. However, the opponent is not registered in the primaries and analysts are considering the possibility that he can run even without the support of the internal vote, in view of the political differences between him and the ultraliberal Maria Corina Machado, who appears as the favorite in most elections. researches.
After the announcement of the new leadership of the CNE, Rosales recognized the balance present in the body and recalled the 2015 legislative elections, in which the opposition won a majority in Parliament. “Our call is to redouble the unitary work that gave us victories like the one in 2015; at that time, there was a CNE similar to the one designated today in the AN and we won the parliamentarians with a majority”, he said.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro also commented on the appointment of the new directors of the body and said that the Legislative reached “a great consensus to choose the new Electoral Power”. “(The new board) is made up of good, professional, balanced men and women, and it is up to them to organize the electoral processes for the next seven years,” he said.
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Another director named this Thursday by the AN who would be close to the government is the current PSUV deputy Rosalba Gil Pacheco, who comes from a diplomatic career and was formerly Venezuelan consul general in Boston, USA.
The presence of directors linked to the UNT and AD parties in the electoral body is seen with optimism by sectors of the opposition coalition called the Democratic Alliance, which rivals the sector with the opponents participating in the primaries, the Unitary Platform.
According to sources heard by Brasil de Fato, the involvement of the UNT and AD subtitles would mean a kind of “coexistence pact” between them, the government and the Democratic Alliance, which would imply the isolation of the other more extremist fractions of the opposition represented by Maria Corina .
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho