Behind the opposition victory in the state of Barinas, part of the opposition to the Government of Nicholas Maduro believes that it is necessary to support the activation of the mechanism known as recall to oust the Bolivarian president from power. This procedure consists of holding a referendum provided for in article 72 of the Constitution of 1999. In the last few hours, the National Electoral Council (CNE), dominated by Chavista officials, has surprised Venezuela reporting that it has admitted three requests to initiate the procedure for “a possible activation of a referendum to recall the mandate of the President of the Republic.”
In reality, the holding of this hypothetical referendum is still a long way off since several legal requirements have to be met. If the case arises, if the Executive gives the green light, the opposition would have to achieve a participation of more than 25% of the electoral census to throw Maduro out and obtain “the same or greater number of voters” than those obtained by the Chavista leader in the last elections (the May 2018 elections not recognized by the opposition or by a large part of the international community), that is, more than 6,248,864 votes.
The closest experience to a possible revocation was in 2016, when The Venezuelan justice struck down the request for a referendum after judicial decisions in five states annulled the collection of signatures to call it. The regulations drawn up by the electoral power establish that if in one of the 23 Venezuelan states 20% of the signatures of the electoral census are not obtained, the process is automatically canceled throughout the country. Among the requirements to celebrate the recall is that of previously gathering a fifth of the census, about four million people.
The only time a referendum was held in Venezuela to recall the president was in 2004. On that occasion, the president Hugo Chavez obtained the support of the Venezuelans with more than 16 points of advantage over the opposition when obtaining the 58.25% of the votes. The anti-Chavista bloc rejected the result, which it considered “a gigantic fraud”. The opposition needed the vote of at least 3.75 million Venezuelans, which Chávez won in the 2000 elections, when he was re-elected until January 2007.
The opposition fears that if the recall is activated, fear among the Chavista ranks will lead many to refrain from signing their support for this mechanism. In 2004, parliamentarian Luis Tascón drew up a list with the names of the officials who had signed the document, the sadly known as “Tascón list”, that the government used, according to the opposition, to punish and purge the signatories with dismissals from public companies.
The opposition leader of Primero Justicia John Paul Guanipa He has said that the great difficulty of the recall is “that it be carried out.” “We already have vast experience with this tool, which is constitutional, but has been nullified, manipulated, distorted in practice” since its establishment in 1999, he told the Voice of America.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) approved this Monday three requests to start the procedure for an eventual activation of a Recall Referendum (RR) of the mandate of the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro. pic.twitter.com/KHfETAZYOY
— cneesvenezuela (@cneesvzla) January 18, 2022
According to Efe, the requests approved on this occasion were promoted by the Venezuelan Movement for Recall (Mover), Todos Unidos por el Referendo Revocatorio and the National Executive Committee of Confedejunta together with the Committee of National and International Democracy.
Quoted by VOA, George Eickhoff, German historian and political scientist, warns that the recall “is 100% under the control of the regime” and estimates that the strategists of the ruling party could be analyzing allowing it in its first phases and then frustrating its call at the last minute. “It is a project that raises hopes, but leads to a new frustration. Perhaps the degree of frustration can be reduced a little if you say beforehand that not much should be expected, “he said about its political consequences.