Venezuelan election campaign wrapping up amid diplomacy, history, propaganda
Caracas, Nov 17 (EFE).- The Venezuelan election campaign continued on Wednesday with a meeting between the election regulatory entity and members of the foreign diplomatic corps accredited to the country at an historic exposition of the country’s voting system while the candidates pushed forward with campaign events.
One day before the end of the campaign period, which began on Oct. 28, the head of the National Election Council (CNE), Pedro Calzadilla, held a meeting with diplomats to provide them with the CNE’s guarantees in the regional and local elections to be held Sunday.
Calzadilla began by discussing the “efforts” that Venezuelan authorities have made to “stabilize the country” and he said that one example of that is the creation of a regulatory body that was designed, as per the Constitution, by Parliament, which currently has an overwhelming Chavista majority.
The CNE is a “plural, diverse” body, he said, because it is made up of three Chavista members and two from the Venezuelan political opposition.
In addition, he said that one of the “things” that the CNE has done is to hold audits of the voting system – which is computer-based – to test that it is functioning correctly.
“We made an effort to incorporate, approve and request new organizations with political aims … That led to the result that around 20 new political parties today are incorporated, including regional organizations and national parties,” he said.
Calzadilla also said that the newly constituted CNE has made an effort to “expand” the election guarantees and that a portion of this includes increasing the number of invitations extended to election observers.
“In all, … (there are) around 300 people, including the four observer missions that are deployed and are deploying, four oversight delegations and two groups of experts, who come from different parts of the world,” he said.
The CNE chief said that Sunday’s vote will be monitored by experts, technicians and diplomats “from 55 countries.”
“We’ve come to this point in the elections in a climate that, we’re proud to say, is an excellent political climate. The parties are deployed, the candidates (are) all over the country, using all the means at their disposal to promote the electoral offerings, with absolute freedom,” he said.
After the meeting, CNE authorities invited the diplomatic corps to an exhibition so that they might better come to understand the official history of the Venezuelan electoral system at the Architecture Museum in Caracas.
The event was headed by the five members of the electoral body, the Chavistas including Calzadilla, Tania D’Amelio and Alexis Corredor and the opposition members being Enrique Marquez and Roberto Picon.
While that was occurring, the many candidates in gubernatorial, mayoral and legislative council races continued to expound on their campaign platforms on the next to last day of campaigning, trying to drum up support amid calls for “change” by the opposition and promises of economic and social improvements amid Venezuela’s dire and ongoing crisis on the part of the Chavistas.
One campaign incident was reported in the southern state of Bolivar, where opposition candidate for governor there, Raul Yusef, punched an opposition rival vying for the same office, Americo De Grazia, in front of the head of the European Union’s election observer mission, Isabel Santos.
Santos called the incident a “small (matter) in a very polarized electoral environment, as happens in many parts of the world.”
Meanwhile, three opposition candidates, two of them for important mayorships and one running for governor in Caracas, Miranda and La Guaira – namely Tomas Guanipa, Andres Schloeter and Jose Manuel Olivares – joined together at a campaign event to promote the vote among members of the opposition.
On the Chavista side, the candidate for Caracas mayor, Carmen Melendez, turned out a large crowd along with motorists and representatives of the transportation sector to back the so-called “1×10” voting mechanism being pushed by the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), where one person brings 10 others to the polls to cast their ballots.
Meanwhile, President Nicolas Maduro, at a forum for the “democracy and freedom of Venezuela,” called for international “understanding and solidarity” in the elections.
A total of 3,028 officials will be selected by voters on Sunday, including 23 governors, 335 mayors, 253 lawmakers to the Legislative Councils and 2,471 city councilors.
The balloting will be the first since 2017 in which the opposition has participated, including the faction headed by Juan Guaido, after calling for supporters to abstain from the presidential vote in 2018 and the legislative elections in 2020.