Legislative Elections in Venezuela: Its Process and Its Challenges
Written by: Exeario Sosa-Ocanto
Fraternal greetings, my name is Exeario Sosa-Ocanto. I am a Bishop of the National Council of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela. I am also a political scientist and would like to share the following analysis and words.
On December 6, 2020, elections will be held for the National Assembly of Venezuela. The country will renew 100% of the available seats to form this Latin American country’s legislative branch. These elections have been called by the National Electoral Council, an autonomous unit of the national public’s power, in charge of organizing electoral processes. The call for elections in 2020 is due to the end of the legislative term’s constitutional period, five years.
This is happening amid the coronavirus pandemic and a political-institutional crisis sponsored by external interests and supported by a Venezuelan opposition. They are promoting a questioning of the country’s institutions, the seizure of financial resources and assets of the Republic in the United States of America and Europe. Also, they advocate for imposing sanctions against those who trade under these adverse conditions or show any solidarity with the Venezuelan people. Additionally, the National Electoral Council board was renewed this year after several members’ end of their service term. The renewal was the dialogue between the government and sectors of the opposition that believes in the electoral process as a democratic mechanism to transform the Venezuelan social and political conflict. The new electoral body has reformed some conditions of the electoral process that differentiate this election from others. Next, I will share what these reforms are about.
First, it is essential to clarify that the National Assembly of Venezuela is a unicameral body. It is currently composed of 167 representatives of all federal entities. Its headquarters are located at the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas. One of the principal changes is precisely the new configuration of the National Assembly. The number of representatives has increased to 277, of which 133 are elected in 87 districts.
The electoral mechanism for these elections is that of the majority vote. The candidates who obtain the majority of votes cast will win, according to the seats available in that particular constituency.
Second, we have 144 representatives who are elected through the mechanism of proportional representation or minority representation. (The) 96 representatives will be selected in the 24 state entities that make up the Republic (equivalent to 24 districts). Simultaneously, 48 will be appointed on a national list that expresses a sizeable federal constituency (representing an innovation concerning previous electoral processes). It should be noted that the seat allocation is based on the d’Hondt method or by the electoral quotient, without threshold percentages. That is, party groups do not need to reach a certain number of votes to participate in allocating seats.
Third, the three indigenous representatives remain postulated according to the procedures and customs of the indigenous peoples. They are still grouped into three administrative regions, included in the state entities’ electronic electoral ballots in each of those regions. The election mechanism for these representatives is a majority vote. The electoral campaign will run from November 3 to December 3. In these elections, approximately 14,400 candidates will participate, nominated by 107 political party organizations. It is essential to note the electoral mechanism promotes the representation of minorities, which guarantees that a significant number of national and regional groups can obtain seats to enable their legislative proposals to society.
Finally, the challenge for the Venezuelan society today is to recover the institutional framework of the legislative power unfortunately lost thanks to the unproductive management of the opposition coalition “Table for Unity.” The 2015-2020 period’s legislative balance is very illustrative (contempt for the judiciary, ineffective political discourse, resolutions, the institution of a parallel government, [and] practically no laws passed). Our society wants answers, proposals, and solutions to the profound social, political, and humanitarian crises caused by external and internal factors. I think it is time to relaunch participatory and leading democracy. The people will decide on December 6 between maintaining inertia and passivity or moving to an active role and being subjects of their own destiny with a political system according to their yearnings for peace with justice.