Venezuela: CNE Lays out Norms as Electoral Campaigning Gets Off to Slow Start

Campaigning got underway this Sunday for both the presidential as well as state and local council elections which are due to be held May 20.

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The first act of opposition front-runner Henri Falcon was poorly attended in eastern Caracas
The first act of opposition front-runner Henri Falcon was poorly attended in eastern Caracas. (Twitter/@amandasanchezc)
By Paul Dobson
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Merida, April 23, 2018, (venezuelanalysis.com) – Candidates for Venezuela’s May 20 elections kicked off their campaigns Sunday as the country’s electoral authorities clarified campaigning regulations.

Whilst numerous local events were held for council candidates, the six presidential candidates held a mix of poorly attended activities with many focusing on social media to begin their campaigns.

Incumbent Nicolas Maduro launched his campaign via Twitter during a state visit to Cuba, promising, “We can achieve prosperity together”.

In his absence, the president’s campaign team held regional rallies as well as a Twitter social media campaign with the hashtag #TodosConMaduro (Everyone with Maduro).

Right-wing opposition frontrunner Henri Falcon was also absent from the official start of his campaign activities where reportedly small numbers of his followers gathered in the upper class stronghold of Chacaito in Caracas.

Falcon has however been touring many states of Venezuela in the build up to the official start of campaigning.

For his part, conservative preacher Luis Ratti also used social media to get his campaign going, encouraging people “to vote for the only candidate who is different from the parties and sectors which have destroyed the country”.

His fellow evangelical, Javier Bertucci, was one of the few candidates to hold a non-social media-based start to proceedings, with his supporters putting on a brief concert in San Felipe, Yaracuy State.

“I have talked to the Americans… I will go to the European community, I will be friendly with Colombia, Panama, Brazil, Israel, and the USA… we will start talking to multilateral bodies to request international financing,” Ratti promised during the event.

Similarly, Reinaldo Quijada, candidate for the ultra-left UPP89 party toured the peasant communities of Portuguesa state Sunday, guaranteeing that he will recognize the results of the presidential elections regardless of the outcome.

No activity was reported from left-wing candidate Francisco Visconti.

Campaigning will be permitted until midnight on May 17, with presidential candidates each allowed four minutes of TV advertising space and five minutes of radio time per day, according to declarations from Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) Sunday.

Cold-calling has been banned as a campaigning tool, but candidates will be able to make use of up to four mass text messages per week.

Local and state council candidates will equally be limited to two minutes per day of advertising on both the television and on the radio, as well as enjoying the right of to up to three mass text messages a week.

Following the signing of a multiparty agreement which established norms for campaigning activity by all presidential candidates at the CNE last month, the electoral body reminded political parties that all electoral material which promotes war, discrimination, intolerance, or that suppresses the exercising of people’s right to vote is banned under article 75 of the Law of Electoral Processes.

Furthermore, the CNE reminded the incumbent candidate that he is required to differentiate state and campaign activities.

The CNE culminated scheduled audits of the electoral register, voting books, and the voting machine software this week as part of the more than 20 independent audits carried out for every electoral process. All audits are presided over by representatives of all participating political parties and international observers.

Equally, participating political parties were required to present their campaign accounts to the CNE last March to assure that they fall within legal requirements, including the prohibition on international funding for elections.