• Short Summary

    Millions of Venezuelans were mobilised in massive carnival-like rallies for Venezuela's general elections on Sunday (December 9).

  • Description

    Millions of Venezuelans were mobilised in massive carnival-like rallies for Venezuela's general elections on Sunday (December 9). Voters will elect a senators and Municipal Councillors.

    The free-spending election campaign--estimated to have cost as much as 100 million pounds sterling (240 million U.S. dollars) -- turned the capital, Caracas into a carnival ground, paralysing traffic and closing offices.

    But thousands of Venezuela's 4.6 million voters have found themselves in a difficult predicament. They found their names were not on voting lists, and at the same time they were liable to heavy fines for not voting.

    This, and the bickering that broke out among the 21 parties and six political movements over alleged election frauds, threatened to create an explosive atmosphere on election day.

    There were also fears of trouble if neither of the two major parties -- the ruling Christian Democrat Party and the opposition Democratic Action Party -- won a big enough majority to break the current deadlock in the Congress.

    There have been reports of widespread dissatisfaction over the lack of a clear majority in the Congress, which has led to reduced Government efficiency. Slogans by dissident army and political factions even call for a military take-over.

    There are 13 candidates in the Presidential race to replace President Rafael Caldera, who finishes his four year term in March next year, and decided not to seek re-election. The two leading candidates are Lorenzo Fernandez, the present Interior Minister, and the Democratic Action Party' Carlos Andres pere, a former Interior Minister.

    The long election campaign carnival ended at midnight on Friday (December 7). The following day was declared a national holiday, and the armed forces patrolled the country to maintain order before polling began on Sunday.

    As the pre-voting quiet feel over Venezuela -- one of the last democracies in South America -- slogans appeared on walls in Caracas reading "The military to power--now."

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