Vigorous campaigning has already begun in Venezuela for the presidential elections in December, when all the nearly-250 seats in the two-chamber National Congress will be contested.
CU Poster of Karl Marx PULL BACK TO GV Communist Party meeting in Caracas
MV Party member applauding from balcony
CU Communist Party leader, Gustavo Machado on rostrum
MV & CU Machado addresses crowd (2 shots)
MV PULL BACK TO GV Crowd applauds
GV PAN Motorcade of Christian Democrat (COPEI) supporters carrying banner supporting Luis Herrera Campins (2 shots)
GV EXT Meeting of Social Democratic Party of Luis Pinerua Ordaz
SV People listening (2 shots)
MV Speaker (not named) ZOOM INTO crowd
GV EXT Jose Vicente Rangel surrounded by supporters of MAS (the Socialist Movement) walking through street of Caracas
MV PULL BACK TO GV People watching from apartment balcony as Rangel mingles with supporters (2 shots)
MV People watch as Rangel walks through streets with supporters (2 shots)
GV Socialist supporters marching through street
Under law, President Perez cannot renew his term of office, or stand for re-election during the next 10 years. Many observers will watch after the elections to see whether President Perez tries to take over the mantle of ideological head of AD, at present vested in the party's founder Senor Romulo Betancourt. So far, neither AD or COPEI has set down its stance on most specific issues. A recent poll put COPEI 14 percent behind AD, and observers say COPEI needs to win in December to avoid going into decline.
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Background: Vigorous campaigning has already begun in Venezuela for the presidential elections in December, when all the nearly-250 seats in the two-chamber National Congress will be contested. The electoral process in Venezuela is only 20 years old, but Venezuelans pride themselves on the freedom of expression in their political climate. Everyone over 18 is compelled by law to vote, and about one quarter of the country's electorate of six million people will be voting for the first time.
SYNOPSIS: A poster of Karl Marx is the obligatory decoration at a Communist Party meeting in Caracas, the capital. Founded in 1931, it is one of the country's nine major political parties, and its president is Senor Gustavo Machado.
At the last elections in December 1973, the Communist Party (PCV) did not gain even one of the 47 seats in the Senate, and won only two of the 195 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The year after this massive rejection of all the leftist parties, a dissident group, calling itself Vanguardia Communista, broke away from the main Communist party. Observers believe the left will be struggling again this time.
One of the two strongest parties, which are both centrist, is the Social Christians Party (COPEI), the chief rival of the ruling Democratic Action (AD) party. COPEI has 64 members in the Chamber of Deputies, to AD's 102, and its leader, Senor Luis Herrera Campins, is reputedly the country's most popular presidential candidate.
The AD Party has chosen Senor Luis Pinerua Ordaz as the presidential candidate they hope will succeed President Carlos Andres Perez Rodrigues. Polls have shown Senor Pinerua to be running three percent behind Senor Herrera in terms of personal popularity.
This is senor Jose Vicente Rangel, presidential candidate for the Movement for Socialism (MAS), the largest of the four main left-wing parties. They have nine members in the Chamber of Deputies and two in the Senate, having won almost five and a half percent of the vote at the last elections. Earlier this year, MAS resisted attempts to present a united left-wing front with a single candidate for the presidency. Since MAS lost votes in recent trade union elections, some members consider it was unwise to reject the left-wing alliance.