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Cablegate: Opposition "Unity Table" Approves Candidate Selection

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHCV #1585/01 3561644
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD009447 TOQ76215-695)
R 221644Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0189
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS CARACAS 001585

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION
HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM VE
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION "UNITY TABLE" APPROVES CANDIDATE SELECTION
PROCESS

1. (SBU) Summary: On December 10, after months of negotiations,
the opposition "unity table" ("mesa de unidad") announced its
proposal for selecting candidates for the September 2010 National
Assembly (AN) elections. While relatively thin on detail, the
agreement establishes that the selection process will rely
predominantly on finding consensus on candidates, either by
unanimous decision or by a super-majority of table members for a
given voting district ("circuito"), as defined by the results of
the November 2008 state and local elections. In districts where
such consensus cannot be found, a technical commission designated
by the table's membership would organize primaries for April 2010,
with a final slate of unity candidates identified by April 30.
Statements from opposition party officials indicate that the table
has been unable to find common ground with Leopoldo Lopez, who
continues to insist on holding nationwide primaries. End Summary.

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FIRST CONSENSUS, THEN PRIMARIES IF NEEDED

--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (SBU) The unity table met for two days to come to final
agreement on the terms of the proposal, which were based on the
concepts of "equality, proportionality, inclusion, and a sense of
responsibility." According to a communiquC) by the table, the
accord "should be the result of the widest possible consultation
with all of the regional and national sectors that represent the
plurality of ideas." The methodology will take into consideration
the "natural candidacies" of both independent and party leaders at
a local level; the electoral results from the November 2008 state
and local elections; and the inclusion of groups who have
previously obtained a certain percentage of votes. The accord
states that the table will reach a formal "unity agreement" on a
given candidate when there is consensus among the members of the
national unity table. If that is not possible, then a three-fifths
majority of the table's members can unilaterally determine a
candidate, as long as that majority collectively represents at
least 66 percent of the votes obtained in the respective state in
the November 2008 elections.

3. (SBU) CandidatQ would be selected through this methodology by
March 31. For districts where no single candidate can be agreed
upon, primaries would be held in April, and would be open - i.e.,
any Venezuelan citizen would be eligible to participate.
Independent candidates would need to produce signatures from at
least one percent of a voting district's voter registry; candidates
affiliated with a political party would be exempt from this
requirement. If consensus is reached on a candidate after the
table decides to hold a primary in a given district, but before
April 1, then the consensus decision would hold. The unity table
plans to conclude all candidate selection no later than April 30,
2010.

4. (SBU) The unity table also agreed to designate a Technical
Commission for Election Primaries (CTEP), which will oversee
activities related to the planning, organization, and execution of
primaries. CTEP will have both national and regional offices, and
will be in charge of establishing the timelines for candidacy
nominations, the electoral campaign, the date and hours of the
voting, the publication of results, and announcement of the
winners. Primaries would be financed in part by the candidates
running in a particular district; however, the agreement does not
contain full details regarding funding mechanisms.

--------------------------------------------- ----

LOPEZ CONTINUES CALL FOR PRIMARIES

--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (SBU) Former Chacao mayor Leopoldo Lopez, head of the newly

constituted Popular Will ("Voluntad Popular") movement, responded
December 15 by asserting that polls indicate 66 percent of
Venezuelans favor holding national primaries. He added that in
order to "win" the AN, it is necessary to have "a methodology that
is inclusive and not imposed." During a party event December 6,
Primero Justicia (PJ) Secretary-General Tomas Guanipa called on
Lopez to respect the unity table and its agreements and consensus.
Guanipa urged Lopez to "not continue dividing us, we should not go
through life like crashing cars, fighting with the whole world. It
is not good for the country that you are hoping for something
different than us."

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
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UNITY TABLE PUSHES CNE TO ANNOUNCE DISTRICTING, REGULATIONS

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------
-------------------

6. (SBU) On December 17, opposition party representatives in the
name of the unity table called on the National Electoral Council
(CNE) to conform to their previously promised timeline (reftel) and
announce the final district boundaries and implementing regulations
of the new electoral law (LOPE). In a press conference held at the
CNE's headquarters in Caracas, opposition representatives asserted
that the CNE has had enough time since the passage of LOPE in July
to create the regulations and warned that it would be "serious" if
the CNE ended its 2009 session without publishing the information.
Opposition leader Enrique Marquea of "Un Nuevo Tiempo" said that
full disclosure of the district boundaries and implementing
regulations are "absolutely a priority for the country; without
those two elements it is impossible to advance in preparation for
legislative elections." He called on the CNE to stay in "emergency
session" until the districting and regulations are finalized and
published. Marquez also expressed concern that Chavez's United
Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) would have access to the
districting information before it was released to the public.
According to Vicente Diaz, the sole independent CNE rector, the CNE
would meet again on December 21-22.
DUDDY

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