- Title: Candidates gear up for Venezuela's controversial constituent assembly vote
- Date: 26th July 2017
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (RECENT) (REUTERS) SIGN THAT READS "THE CONSTITUENT (ASSEMBLY) IS ON ITS WAY" SIGN THAT READS "UNITED FOR A VENEZUELAN CONSTITUENT"
- Embargoed: 9th August 2017 15:01
- Keywords: Caracas Venezuela Constituency National Assembly Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro constituency candidates Delcy Rodriguez Antonio Leon JosÃ© HernÃ¡ndez MarÃa Borges
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0076RCRQRN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: With just days to go, candidates for Venezuela's constituent assembly election are on the final stretch of campaigning for a controversial vote that the government says will unite the divided nation, but which the opposition decries as a means to solidify socialist rule.
Over 5,000 candidates have put their hand up to be a part of the National Constituent Assembly, a 540-person body that will have the power to change the constitution. Government heavyweights such as Delcy Rodriguez are vying for a spot in the assembly. Rodriguez gave up the foreign ministry in the country to defend the socialist policies of her government, which she says are under attack from foreign right-wing elements.
An election for a constituent assembly was called by President Nicolas Maduro in the midst of popular protests expressing widespread anger at food shortages, a flailing economy and rampant crime. Some 100 people have been killed during demonstrations calling for early general elections to bring in a new government. But rather than heed protesters demands, Maduro and his political allies have extolled the election for a constituent body as the way forward for the country.
Candidates for the assembly are composed of seasoned politicians as well as other candidates from different cross sections of society. According to the government, 168 seats have been set aside for candidates to represent students, pensioners and farmers. But Venezuelan political analyst Oswaldo Ramirez told Reuters that many candidates who will make up the assembly will not have sufficient legislative experience to bring forth policies to resolve the country's pressing problems.
The breadth of candidates could also make it difficult for President Nicolas Maduro to strengthen his government's rule in the country, with diverging special-interest candidates campaigning on a variety of issues such as rights for African-Venezuelan citizens, a senior citizens consultation group for the government and greater indigenous recognition, to name a few.
Venezuela's opposition have refused to participate in the election for a constituent assembly, arguing that the body will be stacked with government supporters. Maduro's critics believe the constituent vote is a ploy at limited democracy because he does not enjoy enough popular support to carry his government through a general election.
A recent opinion poll by company Datanalisis reported that 85 percent of Venezuelans oppose President Nicolas Maduro's plans of a constituent assembly. It also put Maduro's approval rating at 21.9 percent.
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