Venezuelan Leftist Movements Criticise CNE Registration Process
Rachel Boothroyd-Rojas (VA) : Venezuelan leftist parties have denounced a new CNE registration process, which they view as a veiled attempt to clamp down on small political organisations in the South American country.
Last Tuesday, the National Electoral Council (CNE) announced that February 18 would mark the start of a process of renewing the registration of all parties that did not win at least 1 percent of the national vote in the 2015 legislative elections.
The rule means that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD), The Union and Understanding Party (Puente), Independents for Progress (IPP) and Popular Political Unity 89 (UPP89), are all exempt from the process. However, the individual parties that make up the MUD coalition will still have to register, given that they did not field independent party tickets in the 2015 elections and therefore did not pass the 1 percent threshold.
According to a CNE declaration, fifty-nine parties will need to complete the registration, including organizations such as REDES, the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) and the Tupamaros, who have all previously stood as an electoral option on the PSUV’s ticket.
Each party will be given two days to register their militants using biometric voting machines at centres across the country. Parties must prove that they have a membership base which amounts to at least 0.5 percent of registered voters in 12 states of their choice, confirmed the CNE’s principal dean Tania D’Amelio.
The move has been criticised by both opposition and Chavista parties, who say that the requirements laid down by the CNE are “impossible” to meet and designed to eliminate smaller parties.
In a press conference, the PCV said that it would refuse to participate in the process as it stands, and announced that it would submit a Supreme Court appeal to nullify the 1965 Law of Political Parties which is being used by the CNE as a legal basis for the registration process.
Communist Party spokespeople said they were particularly concerned by the law’s stipulation that membership lists must be published by the CNE – an act which they fear will put their members at risk.
The PCV was previously outlawed in Venezuela during the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez (1952-1958) and its members were heavily persecuted by state security forces throughout the latter part of the twentieth century.
For his part, the general secretary of the leftist party REDES, Juan Barreto, also lambasted the process as an affront to democracy.
“Eliminating parties in a bureaucratic stroke denies plurality,” said the politician.
“In Libertador (Caracas) it’s necessary to mobilize 20,000 people to be able to reach the threshold… That’s 1200 people per hour… Under these conditions they will make us illegal. We will have to operate in clandestinity, go incognito. But we will fight this legally,” he continued.
Additionally, the MUD has criticized the CNE for including Easter weekends in its registration timetable when most Venezuelans are celebrating or traveling.
Registration with the CNE is essential for being able to stand in Venezuelan elections.
Rachel Boothroyd-Rojas, Venezuelanalysis