Mérida, October 25th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Opposition members running in their primaries to select a presidential candidate must each pay Bs 525,000 (US$ 122,000) to their coalition in order to run.
On 12 February the coalition opposition group Democratic Unity Table (MUD) will hold primary elections for its presidential candidate and also for its governor and mayoral candidates, nationwide elections of which will be held on 7 October 2012, 16 December 2012 and 14 April 2013 respectively.
Teresa Albanes, president of the opposition’s Primaries Electoral Commission (CEP) told press that their primary elections would cost around Bs 21 million (US$ 4.8 million), mostly for seven thousand voting booths, as well as for publicity, and booth attendees.
In May this year MUD approved the regulations for its primaries, which will be used for choosing their candidates except in cases where the varying parties in the umbrella group manage to agree on a single candidate.
According to El Tiempo the coalition will have to pay roughly Bs 3,040 (US$ 706) per booth to the National Electoral Council (CNE). The total cost of Bs 21 million will be divided between the parties and their candidates, with parties paying 55% of the cost. Of what remains, presidential candidates will pay 50% and other candidates the rest.
There are currently eight opposition members competing for MUD’s spot in the presidential elections; Leopoldo López, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Pablo Pérez, María Corina Machado, Diego Arria, Cecilia Sosa, Antonio Ledezma, and Eduardo Fernández.
These nine must pay 70% of the Bs 525,000 during registration, scheduled for 1 to 3 of November. Opposition candidates for regional and mayoral elections will have until 12 November to complete their registration and from the next day all candidates will be able to campaign.
One of opposition primaries candidate for the presidential elections, Fernandez, complained that the amount “limits participation” and blamed the CNE because of the cost of voting booths. Fernandez said he was talking to “friends” to try to get the amount required, while another candidate for the presidential elections, Radonsky, said he has the amount ready.
To participate in any public elections candidates and their parties do not pay any fee, but must meet other registration requirements. Primaries, however, are the parties’ responsibility.
In last year’s primary elections for the national assembly, the CNE gave technical and legal support to both the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and to opposition party Copei. At the time Copei needed 309 voting booths for its internal elections. It was the first time the opposition held primary elections and it was only for a minority of positions.
In its press release at the time, Copei, which like most opposition parties, boycotted the 2006 National Assembly elections, said it needed the CNE’s technical support, but the “rest of the process will be completely managed by the party”.
In the PSUV’s case, it held a nationwide ‘one day’s wage for the revolution’ in order to fund its primaries.
Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro pointed out in August that fourteen of the opposition’s possible presidential candidates had already travelled to Washington “to ask for its (Washington’s) blessing before launching their presidential bids” and US president Barack Obama has requested at least US$5 million in funding for the Venezuelan opposition within his 2012 budget.