Takeaways from the Constituent Assembly Election

Unsurprisingly, the CNE announced a result of 8,089,329 million voters who came to the polls, thereby just edging out the 7.6 million the opposition reported two weeks ago. Members of the opposition, in contrast, assure that only between 2-3 million voted. Torino Capital did exit polling that estimated an 18.5% turnout and 3.6 million voters.

The numbers are entirely unverifiable because this time around the National Electoral Council (CNE) dispensed with fourteen of its normal audits and protocols. In addition, it allowed voters to vote in alternative centers, did not use indelible ink, had no independent electoral observation, and did not allow journalists anywhere near the electoral centers.

The biggest story of the day is the international response to the election. At this writing over ten countries have stated they do not recognize the election and or will not recognize the Constituent Assembly.

This could lead to the withdrawal of ambassadors. It could lead them to continue to recognize the National Assembly (AN) which will either be disolved or marginalized (Diosdado Cabello has already assured the ANC will displace the AN from the Federal Legislative Palace). It could also complicate commercial relations between the countries, making it difficult to sign collaborative agreements. (See Mariano de Alba’s analysis, EfectoCocuyo.com here, New York Times here.).

Peru has called a meeting of foreign ministers, independent of the OAS.  This is positive and could lead to an attempt to create a group of friends or other diplomatic initiative. One thing to watch is whether the Maduro government will listening to proposals that do not recognize the validity of the Constituent Assembly.

The US seems poised to levy economic sanctions of some type. Depending on what and how strong they are, they could weaken the resolve of the region or provide them with a greater sense of urgency.

Today was the most violent day since the cycle of protests began in April. Between ten (Attorney General’s office figure) and sixteen were killed (opposition figure). This violence clearly suggests a new stage of repression on the part of security forces, but also new levels of violence in the opposition. One Constituent Assembly candidate was murdered in his home. Seven National Police officers were injured by a bomb detonated in Altamira. National Guard and National Police seemed to be taking a zero tolerance approach preventing protestors from even getting to the highways.

This might be just a warm up for this week. The opposition has already called for nationwide protests on Monday and for all of Venezuela to come to Caracas on the day the National Constituent Assembly is installed (probably Wednesday).