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08/13/2021

EPA: Primary and open elections in Venezuela

EPA: Primary and open elections in Venezuela

This Sunday, August 8, 2021, within the framework of an unprecedented deployment in the Covid19 pandemic, the Primary and Open Elections (EPA) of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) were held to define new candidates for mayors and governors of all the municipalities and states of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, that is: 23 governorates and 335 municipalities.

It should be noted that all citizens registered in the Venezuelan electoral registry could participate in these elections without having to be affiliated with the PSUV, that is, sympathizers of other allied parties, people not affiliated with any party and even people related to other political parties could participate. Even the opposition to the government of Nicolás Maduro could participate, if they wanted to, but of course chose not to.

Why didn’t the opposition carry out its EPAs?

In Venezuela there are, unlike most countries in Latin America and the rest of the world, five powers in addition to the classic powers inspired by Montesquieu: Executive, Legislative and Judicial, here we also have the Citizen Power and the Electoral Power. The latter is represented by its highest body: the National Electoral Council (CNE). According to Venezuelan electoral law, each party or coalition of political parties that wishes to hold primaries to define their electoral candidates must request the CNE to assist and accompany them in primary and open elections.

In this case, the opposition is so fragmented that it has not asked the CNE to hold its primary and open elections (EPA) and, frankly, it is difficult for it to do so, because as director of CNE, Tania D’Amelio, said on Twitter:

“According to the electoral schedule, the CNE begins today (08/09/2021) and until August 29, the process of presentation, admission or rejection of the nominations of the candidates who will participate in the regional and municipal elections of November 21.”

However, it is important to mention that part of the opposition has maintained that it is willing to participate in the general elections to be held on November 21, 2021, with which it shows that internal pressures within the opposition to define who will be its candidates must be at their peak.

For its part, the ruling PSUV achieved a great mobilization of its social base and established itself as a power bloc in Venezuela. Some 100,975 PSUV militants applied for the process, for which the CNE set up more than 5,000 polling stations throughout the Caribbean country. In this sense, the National Electoral Council reported that more than 3,500,000 Venezuelans participated in these EPAs.

Partial Results

The current Minister of the Interior, Admiral Carmen Meléndez, former Minister of Defense and former Governor of Lara state, was elected as a candidate for mayor of the city of Caracas, the country’s capital; the current governor of the second most important state in Venezuela, the state of Miranda, Héctor Rodríguez, who was also the minister of the presidency of Hugo Chávez, when Rodríguez -with 23 years old- had not yet finished his law career, will be the candidate to be reelected governor of Miranda.

Argenis Chávez, brother of the supreme commander, was elected as a candidate for governor for the state of Barinas, the state where Hugo Chávez was born; Another important state is Carabobo, where the current governor Rafael Lacava was also elected in these EPAs as a candidate for the regional elections next November in Venezuela.

Similarly, the current governors of the state of Zulia, Omar Prieto, were elected to seek reelection; from the state of Anzoategui, Luis Marcano; from the state of Falcón, Victor Clark; from the state of Yaracuy, Julio Heredia; from the state of Mérida Jehison Guzmán; from the state Delta Amacuro, Lizetta Hernández; from the state of Cojedes, Margot Godoy, among other referents of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

Post electoral analysis

The results of the primary and open elections of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela is an expression that allows us to analyze Chavista forces, but it is not enough to analyze the Venezuelan people as a whole. Venezuelan society is heterogeneous, diverse and complex, as are all societies. In addition, the country is undergoing international harassment that enhances polarization.

However, it is possible to classify the entire electoral process, the nominations and the election of candidates for mayors and governorships as a deeply participatory process: 3,500,000 voters are an important number for internal elections, showing that many believe in the participatory democracy established by the Constitution of the Republic and approved by the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999.

These EPAs confirm that the Chavismo is the greatest political force in Venezuela. Certainly, the Chavismo is a heterogeneous space and, as the Venezuelan analyst Carlos Rivero, would say, “Chavismo is more than a party, it has more a behavior of a Broad Front (in the style of Uruguay and Chile), made up of different currents, different policies, unified around the defense of the government and a leadership”.

Similarly, although these EPAs were an electoral process of a revolutionary party that has proposed an economic, social and cultural transformation, we warn that the form of electoral exercise does not essentially exceed the exercise of representative and bourgeois democracy: the real challenge occurs in the streets and in the institutions, where even during the Revolution, bourgeois and counterrevolutionary habits coexist. You have to be alert.

The electoral victors of these EPAs will face the general contest on November 21. The elections: 1. put the PSUV at an important advantage, despite the adverse situation experienced by all the Venezuelan people; 2. They electorally unifies the PSUV in the face of a highly fragmented opposition; and, 3. Allow the party to raise the awareness of the people about the need to articulate and carry out permanent resistance work. We would add that the Bolivarian government took another strategic step: keeping the opposition divided, although this is more the result of the opponents themselves, and keeping the PSUV mobilized throughout the country. As we always say, politics is movement and action, and therefore, it is change.

Micaela Ovelar
Political scientist and international adviser, Argentine-Venezuelan scholar, feminist and social activist. Micaela has a B.A. in Political Science, a Masters in International Relations; with studies in issues of gender, government, democracy, and the state. She was the international relations adviser of president Hugo Chavez and has worked with the Venezuelan government for the last 15 years.She is also an independent journalist, producer, and in Film & TV Direction from EMPA (Venezuela). She was a producer and commentator at Radio Alba Ciudad (Caracas). Micaela worked as translator and transcriptionist on “South of the Border” by Oliver Stone, archival research on "Silvio Rodríguez. My first calling" by Catherine Murphy, and as a journalist for “Correo del Alba.” (Bolivia-Venezuela).

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