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The TSJ’s Impact on July 28th Electoral Card Examined

The design of the electoral card that will be used in the presidential elections scheduled for next July 28 should be the exclusive responsibility of the National Electoral Council (CNE), as it is in charge of validating the political parties and groups of voters that will participate in The elections. However, in practice another body has been participating in the preparation of the ballot since long before the election date was set: the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ).

Of the 37 organizations that have received the referee’s approval to attend the next electoral event, 10 (27.02%) have been intervened by the highest court or a ruling has been issued against them. With its actions, the governing body of the Judiciary has not only interfered in the internal affairs of the parties, thereby violating the right to association and participation in public affairs of its members, but it seems to have become a species of “great voter.”

Next, we remember which formations have been affected.

One of the first parties to be intervened was not the opposition, but one of the original members of the Patriotic Pole (a coalition within which the Government party was): the Movement for Social Democracy (Podemos), which in turn was born from a split in 2002 from the leftist Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). In June 2012, the Constitutional Chamber, through its ruling No. 793, took the reins of the formation from the group led by the then deputy Ismael García and placed the former governor of the state of Aragua, Didalco Bolívar, at the helm. The decision was adopted after Bolívar went to the highest court to denounce that the support given by the board headed by García to the presidential candidacy of the opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski was taken “without consulting the militancy.” In the case of the political organization Patria para Todos (PPT), in 2012 the TSJ also intervened to favor a sector that supported Chavismo.

Three years later it was the turn of the People’s Electoral Movement (MEP), an organization that was also part of the official alliance, but that little by little was distancing itself; For the 2015 parliamentary elections he planned not to continue within the Patriotic Pole. However, in July 2015, the Electoral Chamber took advantage of a complaint that a militant made in relation to the lack of renewal of the authorities to behead the board of directors of that party and appoint a board. to this. Almost a decade later, those appointed by the TSJ remain in office and have not held internal elections, judging by a ruling from July 2023 that rejected an injunction that sought to hold elections.

In 2015 the TSJ also acted against the first openly opposition parties: Bandera Roja and Copei. In the case of Bandera Roja, the Constitutional Chamber heard the complaint of some of its militants about vices and irregularities in the organization of the internal elections and after annulling said process, handed the reins of the formation to one of the plaintiffs (Pedro Celestino Velez). In 2020, the party was authorized to nominate candidates for the parliamentary elections of that year. The strike against Bandera Roja was most symbolic, since this organization, considered extreme left and which in the 60s, 70s and 80s was accused of carrying out subversive acts, never supported the Chávez Government. Five years later, another radical left organization, the Tupamaro Revolutionary Movement, suffered a similar fate. This formation had distanced itself from the Government of Nicolás Maduro and for the 2020 parliamentary elections it planned to be part of an alternative alliance with the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the Homeland Party for All (PPT). However, his intervention, decreed by the Constitutional Chamber, frustrated this plan. Just days apart, the PPT suffered the same fate. Although the Constitutional Chamber gave the directives imposed on both organizations 12 months to hold new elections, only the PPT has complied with that order. However, it did so in a not entirely transparent manner, according to complaints and allegations of fraud by some managers. William Rodríguez, member of the National Directorate, accused deputy Ilenia Medina of wanting to “crown herself in the party.” Finally, the PCV was beheaded by the Constitutional Chamber in August 2023, following the same recipe and arguments applied to the other formations mentioned above.

In 2020, the TSJ went further and took measures against five opposition parties: Democratic Action (AD), Primero Justicia (PJ), Voluntad Popular (VP), the Movement for National Integrity (MIN-UNIDAD) and Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT). However, only three were effectively intervened: AD, PJ and VP, although one of them (PJ) had the measure revoked days later, after one of its leaders, former governor Capriles, showed himself willing to participate in the elections. legislative elections of that year, remaining in limbo since then, since the party leadership remained suspended and will not be present on the electoral card for these presidential elections. In the case of UNT, the intervention never materialized, while MIN-Unidad, although a board of directors was not appointed to this, authorized a militant to apply to the CNE. In the case of AD, the Constitutional Chamber extended its intervention and then endorsed the result of its controversial internal elections, ignoring the complaints of some of those who competed in said process. Regarding the Copei Christian Social Party, in July 2015 a board of directors was appointed. to this and, therefore, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) decided to withdraw its candidates for the parliamentary elections that year and excluded the historic party, one of the two that alternated in power in Venezuela between 1958 and 1998. In the case of the Christian Social Party, the TSJ, at least twice more, continued to appoint its directives, the last in December 2019.

The intervention of the TSJ in the internal affairs of the parties is another example of the weaknesses of the Venezuelan electoral system, since of the 10 qualified for the presidential elections and who have been the target of judicial decisions, five will have the candidate for re-election, Nicolás, as their candidate. Maduro (MEP, Podemos, PCV, Tupamaro and PPT), this, despite the fact that all of them had maintained serious disagreements and had even broken with him or his predecessor in office, the late Hugo Chávez. For their part, of the remaining five formations, previously considered opposition (or at least currently controlled by opponents not aligned with the unitary platform), they distribute their support between four candidates who are conciliatory with the Government or who have no real possibility of winning the seat. of the Miraflores Palace, according to what the surveys indicate. The above makes clear the role that the highest court, through its Constitutional and Electoral chambers, has been playing in recent years to help the authorities shape a tailored opposition, nullify the aspirations of dissident Chavismo and neutralize real electoral rivals.

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