Mérida, April 18th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – After nine months campaigning for people to sign up for the electoral register, the CNE has closed the process, seeing non-registered voters reduced to 3.5% of the population. President Hugo Chavez also approved financial resources for the upcoming elections, as well as extra resources for state governments and for housing.
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) closed the electoral enrolment period on Sunday after nine months in which Venezuelans and Venezuelan residents could enrol to vote, or change their address.
The CNE set up 1,300 registration tents around the country and in overseas consulates, and 1,360,598 people registered to vote for the first time, while 4,512,000 changed their voting address, according to CNE director Sandra Oblitas. 89% of the new registrations are youth aged 18 to 25, and who are now eligible to vote. Other new registrations consist of those who have since been granted Venezuelan nationality, people who were unable to register due to rural isolation or perhaps a disability, and people who chose not to register.
With the new registrations, over 19 million people are registered to vote in national elections. Only those with Venezuelan nationality can vote in the October presidential elections, while residents will be able to vote in the following December regional elections.
Oblitas said that the gap between those able to vote and those registered had been reduced to 3.5%, something she characterised as “an advance… we have been applying a policy… of inclusion”.
Yesterday President Hugo Chavez also approved extra government spending, including extra funds for state governments, money to cover the recent 32.25% minimum wage increase, and to cover the upcoming elections.
The president and the ministers’ council assigned Bs 2,273,000,000 (US$ 494 million) to the CNE to carry out the 7 October electoral process, as well as the 16 December regional elections.
They also assigned Bs 18,048,000,000 (US$ 4.1 million) to cover the minimum wage increase, which will come into effect on 1 May and 1 September, in two increments of 15%. The assigned money also covers pension payments, which are based on the minimum wage.
State governments will also receive an extra Bs 1,950,000,000 (US$ 453 million) in total, with the highest amounts going to Zulia state (Bs 204 million), Miranda (Bs 166 million), and Carabobo (134 million). All three states are run by the opposition, which frequently uses a supposed lack of federal funding as its explanation for its bad management in those states.
The ministers’ council also approved Bs 831 million (US$ 193 million) for the purchase of 1,074 housing units for people left without housing due to the flooding at the end of 2010.
The national government frequently assigns extra resources out of unexpected income, such as petroleum income above what had been budgeted. Annual budgets are usually based on a more conservative estimate of oil income in order to avoid any problems.