Venezuela Fact Sheet

Get the Facts:

Country: Venezuela
Upcoming Election: Presidential
Date: October 7, 2012
Population: 28,047,938
Independence: July 5, 1811
Government: Federal Republic

The Candidates

Nicolas Maduro
Party: United Socialist Party of Venezuela
Birth date: November 23, 1962
From: Caracas, Venezuela
Political Experience: Currently Interim President, Vice President Venezuela, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Key Issues: Beliefs closely follow those of his predecessor, Chavez, social spending to benefit the poor, housing, health, and other social programs.
Henrique Capriles Radonski
Party: Justice First
Birth date: July 11, 1972
From: Caracas, Venezuela
Political Experience: Govenor of Miranda, Mayor of Baruta, President of the Chamber of Deputies
Key Issues: Believes in helping businesses succeed through free market, taking on poverty through strong state policies, and improving education.

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The Electoral Process

Who: All citizens that are at least 18 years old may vote. Citizens must be registered to vote in the Electoral Registry.

When: Presidential elections are held every four years. Senatorial elections are held every 6 years. National Assembly elections are held every 5 years.

What: Before the elections are held in October, primary elections are held in February to determine who will be selected to represent the political parties on the ballot in October.

How: Venezuela elects the president by a plurality vote. The plurality system is a single-winner voting system. The candidate that is selected by the voters of Venezuela determine the results of the presidential election.

A Little Bit of History: In 1958 the people of Venezuela overthrew then president and dictator General Marcos Perez Jimenez. This change brought about a new ear in the Venezuelan government. It signaled the withdrawal of the military having direct involvement in national politics. Voting has also changed in recent years. In the past, voter turnout rates were low, with only half of registered voters going to the polls. This was in part due to the fact that citizens didn’t have the necessary documents allowing them to vote as well as limited access to polling places. Today, however, there are about 17.8 million registered voters of the approximately 28 million citizens in Venezuela. In the last presidential election, 75% of registered voters came to the polls.

The Government Structure

Type of Government:Venezuela is a federal republic. This means that the government is made up of a federal state with self-governing subunits. Branches of Government: Venezuela has five branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Electoral, and Citizen Power.

  • Executive Branch: This branch is made up of the President, the Vice President who is appointed by the President and the Council of Ministries – a cabinet that is appointed by the president.
  • Legislative Branch: This branch consists of an unicameral National Assembly elected through a closed-list proportional representation system that is voted on by single-member and multi-member constituencies.
  • Judicial Branch: This branch consists of a 32-member Supreme Court that is elected by the National Assembly as well as lower courts that include district and municipal courts as well as courts of first instance.
  • Electoral Branch: This branch is the 5 member, National Electoral Council and is elected by the National Assembly. They are responsible for organizing all elections.
  • Citizen Power Branch: This branch is made up of the Prosecutor General, Public Defender and Comptroller General who are elected by the National Assembly. They are also known as the Republican Moral Council because they are responsible for challenging actions they believe are illegal or violate the constitution before the Supreme Court.

Terms of Office: The President serves a 6-year terms and there is no limit to the number of terms in office he or she may serve. Members of the National Assembly serve 5-year terms in office and may be re-elected indefinitely. Members of the Supreme Court serve 12-year terms. The National Electoral Council serves 7-year terms. The 3 members of the Citizen Power Branch also serve 7-year terms.

  • Requirements for Office: There are different requirements for elected offices in the 3 branches of government.
  • President: To serve as President you must be at least 30 years old, a native citizen, and a “layman” – or non-clergy member.
  • National Assembly: Deputies must be at least 21 years old on the day of election, natural born or naturalized citizens, have lived in Venezuela for at least 15 years, and live in the state for which they seek election during the 4 year prior to the election.