Caracas, January 29, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Saturday the launch of a new political party ahead of upcoming presidential elections.
Speaking during a Facebook Live video broadcast from his campaign headquarters, Maduro revealed that the “We Are Venezuela Movement” will now be registered as a political party with its own electoral ticket.
“Just as you will be able to vote for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, as well as the Great Patriotic Pole and all its parties, you will be able to vote for the We Are Venezuela Movement,” he told prospective voters.
The political organization was created last June in order to expand the coverage of state social programs among vulnerable communities as identified through the government’s new ID system, known as the Homeland Card. According to the government, the movement’s 115,530 brigade members are deployed across the country, providing assistance to people with disabilities, elders, and pregnant women.
Maduro indicated that the new party will be led by National Constituent Assembly (ANC) President Delcy Rodriguez and will take over the electoral ticket formerly belonging to the New Revolutionary Path party.
The head of state further revealed that all the allied parties of the Great Patriotic Pole coalition had pledged their support for his reelection bid as well as 29 social movement organizations.
“They are giving me their support, I want to be the presidential candidate of all of the revolutionary, patriotic, and Chavista movements and of all the Venezuelans who believe in the future,” he declared during a softball game at Fort Tiuna on Sunday.
The announcement comes as one of Venezuela’s most prominent opposition parties successfully reverified itself with the National Electoral Council (CNE).
Over the weekend, center-right Democratic Action (AD) collected the requisite number of signatures in order to renew its status as a political party.
This past December, Venezuela’s ANC approved a decree requiring the three largest opposition parties to renew themselves with the CNE following their controversial decision to boycott December 10 municipal elections.
AD, First Justice, and the Popular Will party together with the Union and Understanding Party (Puente) and Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition umbrella party were required to prove they have the support of at least 0.5 percent of registered voters in 12 states.
Following its successful validation, AD Secretary General Henry Ramos Allup vowed to place his party “at the service” of the country.
“Thanks to all of the Venezuelans who for the second time defended AD despite the obstacles. Our ticket remains at the service of a united Venezuela that wants a change in peace in order to rescue its future,” he wrote on Twitter.
Ramos Allup is widely viewed as a frontrunner in a potential opposition presidential primary, though the 74-year-old politician is dogged by his past as a leading member of Venezuela’s pre-Chavez political establishment, notorious for its corruption and human rights abuses. According to a December Venebarometro poll, Ramos Allup has the highest disapproval rate among all Venezuelan politicians, with 23.6 percent of those surveyed vowing never to vote for him.
However, not all opposition parties met the 0.5 percent threshold for revalidation.
The right-wing First Justice (PJ) party failed to collect sufficient signatures this past weekend and must attempt the process again on February 3 and 4.
PJ originally intended to renew the status of the MUD – the main opposition coalition that also has functioned as an umbrella political party – until the Supreme Court excluded the organization from the re-registration process, arguing it was illegal for opposition leaders to be members of their own parties and the MUD.
The far-right Popular Will party has, for its part, refused to re-register with the CNE, raising questions whether it will call on its voters to abstain from the presidential election as it did during municipal races.
Ramos Allup has indicated that the opposition could be ready to hold presidential primaries within “four or five weeks”.
Last week, the ANC passed a law requiring the CNE to convene presidential elections before April 30, though the electoral authority has yet to fix a precise date.