VENEZUELA: DOES THE CNE ADDRESS THE INTERESTS OF CIVIL SOCIETY OR THOSE OF THE GOVERNMENT?
Report from Sumate.org
1. The issues of the CNE's political independence and of the participation within it of civil society representatives, envisioned in the Basic Law on Suffrage and Political Participation, was included in Articles 294 and 296 of the 1999 Constitution and in Article 3 of the Basic Law of the Electoral Power (LOPE). These articles clearly state the principle of separating the electoral body from any political organization and insuring the participation of citizens and civil society organizations. The National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Justice did not take this principle into account when they designated the members of the CNE in August 2003 and January 2005.
2. When in October 2002 the National Assembly approved Article 19 on the membership of the Postulations Committee, which established that 11 of the 21 members would be Congressmen, it disregarded the objective of the above mentioned articles, contravening not only the spirit of Article 296 of the Constitution, but also a clear ruling by the TSJ. This ruling No. 1395, Exp. 00-1901, of November 21, 2000 , states:
3. Similarly, in August 2003, the Supreme Court of Justice's violation of the principle of political independence and social participation, which should guide the CNE's participation in any political and party consultation process aimed at selecting its new members, became apparent. Not one single civil society organization was taken into account in that consultation process.
4. When it defined the norms regulating the gathering of signatures to request a Presidential Recall Referendum and those guiding the Recall Referendum itself, the Electoral Council acted beyond its jurisdiction, contravening a number of sentences passed by the Supreme Court. The Council's actions represented, in practice, an appropriation of tasks that are the responsibility of the citizenry and therefore were in clear violation of the constitutional principles of citizens' participation, the non partisan affiliation of members of the electoral body, and efficiency and celerity in electoral processes.