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Two elections that express the erosion of polarization in Venezuela

In December the last Latin American electoral processes of the year are prepared amid a climate of political frustration and electoral distrust.

Venezuelans carry their belongings down an illegal road after illegally entering Colombia through the Táchira River

The elections in Venezuela are approaching, after a year marked by protests. / Photo: Reuters

LatinAmerican Post | Miguel Denis

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Leer en español: Dos elecciones que expresan el desgaste de la polarización en Venezuela

In the first two weeks of December, Venezuelans are inserted into an electoral situation marked by a year of protests and social crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic; the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict registers an average of more than 20 daily protests throughout the country since April 2020. The two main political forces (the PSUV in government and the opposition parties of the so-called G4 that support the “Interim Government” of Juan Guaidó) have decided to organize electoral events in which they ignore each other, amid a climate of disconnection between political parties and a population immersed in dynamics of daily survival.

The legislative elections of December 6 have been rejected by the opposition, due to the series of irregularities that went through their convocation process. The election of the new National Electoral Council (CNE) was carried out unilaterally by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), maintaining the policy of substitution by decree of the functions of the National Assembly. This situation was reported on the BBC New web portal as a new questioning of democracy in Venezuela.

The parties that announced an abstentionist policy were intervened by the TSJ to change their directive and place representatives who had agreed to electoral participation. This was the case of the opposition Primero Justicia y Acción Democrática party. These intervention measures were also replicated in parties that had previously accompanied the PSUV, but which now formed a new left-wing coalition critical of the government. The PPT and Tupamaros were judicially intervened to place directors in favor of a coalition with the PSUV and prevent their cards from sending votes to a list other than the government one. The New York Times made a report on the demarcation of left-wing sectors from Chavismo with the Maduro administration, where they express cases of political persecution of those who internally criticize the government.

The political parties grouped around Guaidó decided to call a consultation for the days after the legislative elections, with the aim of confirming the political direction of the current National Assembly and the strategy of pressure and international sanctions of the "Interim Government"; at the same time that they maintain a policy of abstention compared to December 6.

Also read: What is the impact of the US elections in Colombia?

Disagreements in the opposition and the limits of polarization

A sector of the opposition led by former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonsky, belonging to the Primero Justicia party, tried to carry out a negotiation process to participate in the elections with their own card, on the condition that an international observation of the party be established by the European Union (EU). Although the government appeared to have accepted the proposal and invited an EU election observation commission in September, the proposal was rejected due to the short time with respect to the election date. Finally, this sector decided not to participate in the December 6 elections, nor in the opposition consultation. According to the New York Times, those who call for participation in the 6D elections, appeal to pressure scenarios such as those that happened in Belarus after the August elections, when the population mobilized peacefully and massively after Lukashenko's authoritarian government was accused of manipulating the election results against him.

The political polarization has ended up generating two political universes that are mutually exclusive, however, at the same time both forces are experiencing great difficulty in maintaining their respective blocs due to the criticism generated within them. Small political forces have emerged that have opened up different voices on the political map, either participating in the December 6 elections, separating themselves from both the legislative and the consultation, or even raising criticism of polarization as a whole.

According to the pollster Datanalisis, in June 2020 the rejection of Maduro reached 76.7%, while the rejection of Guaidó had maximums of 61.6%. In this way, a general feeling of disconnection with the political class is reflected. Abstention is expected to be the protagonist in both electoral processes, as an expression of a year that has been characterized by disillusionment and general wear and tear of the leaderships that have directed the political debate in the last two decades.

 

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