CARACAS.- The new National Electoral Council (CNE) surprised Venezuela on Monday night by giving its approval in a few hours what in other times hindered for months. The electoral referee, with a Chavista majority, approved three requests to start the process of the recall referendum (RR) against Nicolás Maduro, in what he already points to will become a key issue on the political agenda.
“Declared the origin of the requests, the National Electoral Board must now prepare a schedule for the collection of these wills,” the CNE specified. The referendum would only be held if the sponsors collect just over 4 million signatures, equivalent to 20% of those registered on the electoral register.
The opposition groups that promote the recall against Maduro are not part of the main parties of the Democratic Unity, they even come from different political families. These are the Venezuelan Movement for the Recall (Mover), All United for the Recall Referendum, the National Executive Committee of Confedejunta and the National Democracy Committee. Its main leaders, backed by a few dozen followers, appeared on Monday morning at different CNE regional meetings to insist on their request.
If the signatures are collected, a referendum would be held, in which to revoke Maduro it is not enough that he win the yes to the recall, It should also exceed the votes reached in 2018 by the “people president”: 6,245,862. An important figure because since then between six and seven million Venezuelans have fled their country. Experts and opponents take it for granted that the revolution will make it extremely difficult for a deeply anti-Chavista diaspora to vote.
“We are not telling the country that the recall is a shot to the ground, but rather a citizen civic struggle,” said former Governor César Pérez Vivas, at the head of Mover.
The speed with which the CNE admitted the initiative immediately caused suspicion in the opposition, which was also divided over this process. It was also surprising that the CNE avoided one of the procedures that did take place in 2016, such as the initial collection of 1% of the signatures.
In favor of the organizers is the national weariness with the revolution, as confirmed by the polls since Maduro came to power in 2013: Between 74% and 84% of citizens want their government to end in the current year.
On the contrary, the little enthusiasm that is breathed in the main opposition parties, which for the most part keep a strategic silence, in the face of what is considered to be a new trap of chavismo. “It does not represent any risk for the dictator, he aborts it whenever he wants”warned the political scientist Georg Eickhoff.
Juan Guaido he moved in a calculated ambiguity in the face of the recall. The president in charge did show his suspicions on Tuesday before the “CNE protected by the dictatorship”, whose ad does not have “good intentions”. However, it leaves a door open for the negotiations in Mexico to impose democratic conditions not only in a possible RR, especially in the face of early presidential elections, as he already pointed out in an interview with LA NACIÓN.
A good part of the opposition bloc is committed to preparing the fight for the 2024 presidential elections, with primaries and leadership renewal.
They also fear that Maduro will take advantage of the process to achieve the same thing he has been seeking since the electoral fraud of 2018: legitimize the usurped presidency.
The Bolivarian Constitution included the mid-term recall referendum as one of its main political novelties. At the presidential level, it was carried out for the only time in 2004 against Hugo Chávez, who emerged triumphant with the support of 59% of voters and under a cry that became his campaign slogan and that later accompanied him in all his electoral duels: “Uh, ah, Chavez is not leaving!”
Instead, between 2016 and 2017 Maduro blocked the recall (which would surely have removed him from power), led then by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. It was enough for the CNE to intervene at the time, which delayed the collection of signatures for months, and some Chavista judges, who invented that part of the rubrics were false. The Supreme clinched the task, as is usual in revolution.
The current rector of the CNE, Enrique Márquez, has already announced that “there will be many complications along the way” for the RR. “But we will move forward,” replied Nícmer Evans, a former Chavista leader. Among those who promote the RR is also the deputy Américo de Grazia, who attended the last regional elections with the support of collaborating parties with the government.
The Constitution establishes that it would be Vice President Delcy Rodríguez who would assume the provisional command if Maduro is revoked in the referendum. Depending on the date, the legislature would be exhausted or new elections would be called.