Archive for July 11th, 2005

The trick is in the law by Teodoro Petkoff

July 11, 2005

Today’s Tal Cual Editorial explains to us what Daniel explained so well to us last
November about the results in the regional elections and once again in
his most recent post
about how the officialdom takes advantage of its
control over the electoral authorities to simply violate the principle of proportional representation. So, you heard it there first from a blogger, but it is always
useful to review what Petkoff has to say about how the law is being used to cheat in Venezuelan elections.

The trick is in the law by Teodoro
in Tal Cual

An old saying assures us that he who makes the rules establishes how
to cheat. The “trick” in the Venezuelan electoral system is precisely in the
law. The concern for advantageous control by the “officialdom” has left out of
focus the grave problem of the electoral system consecrated in the Suffrage
law, modified later by the Electoral Statues, under the rule of chavismo. Thus,
for the election of collegiate bodies (municipal councils and the legislature),
with this law and this statute, the largest political force-even if it is a
minority, as long as it is the largest minority-always obtains a much larger
number of positions than the proportion of votes it received.

In other words, the current system practically nullifies the principle
of proportional representation and insures that the largest minority has an
over representation in the elected positions. A party with 40% of the votes can
obtain more than 60% of the positions up for grabs.

Let us explain ourselves. In the Suffrage law, approved in 1998, before Chavez,
the mixed German system was established, which states that half the positions
would be elected directly (50%) and the other half by slates-which would allow
that at least half of those elected would represent the proportion of votes
obtained. The positions elected directly by name would be subtracted from those
obtained by slate, with which, at the end of the day, would yield a result
which would be quite proportional to the actual votes. The modification introduced
later, increased the number of positions elected directly to 60% of the total,
without subtracting those elected from the slates and it left open the
possibility of using the trick of the “twins”. That is, the same party splits
its candidates into two parties: with one name it nominates candidates to be
elected directly and with the other name it nominates the slate candidates.
Thus, for example, Chavez’ MVR, with its own name, postulates candidates by
slate and with the name UVE, its “twin”, it nominates those to be elected
directly. Given that they are the number one political force, they can obtain,
in theory, all of the nominal positions (60%9 of the total, by winning in all
of the electoral circuits and, besides these, the proportion corresponding to
the elected positions by slate, from which the positions elected directly are no
longer subtracted.

The Germans, who invented the mixed system, introduced the corrections so that it
would be impossible use the “twins”. The Mexicans made the same correction (the
PRI became well known for the trick of the twins) recently to block the PRI
from taking advantage of the ability to “make twins”

Of course, the trick works if the Electoral Board, the CNE does not declare the
identity of the “twin” parties, but the electoral organization has nothing in
the law that forces it to do it and in some cases, as long as the law is not
modified, the same political sector can act through clearly distinct political
parties, in order to sidestep any objections. Thus, for example, in the elections
for regional legislative councils, Chavez’ MVR “twinned” itself with Podemos,
which was obviously a different party. However, now Chavez’ MVR has its own
twin wild card party, UVE, created by it in order to do without its electoral partners and
legalized in a very sloppy way by the CNE. An impartial CNE would have
prohibited such a coarse trick.

Suffrage law needs to be modified so as to reestablish proportional representation
and insure with it truly democratic elections, from which truly collegiate
bodies may arise, which are truly representative of national opinion.