Venezuela’s ruling party tests voter organizing campaign

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A painting of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is seen at a building affiliated with the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela on June 9. (AP)

CARACAS, Venezuela, June 10, (AP): With its decades-long grip on power under threat, Venezuela’s ruling party on Sunday tested a voter organizing campaign aimed at shoring up President Nicolás Maduro’s bid for a third term.
The assessment followed weeks of efforts by local organizers of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela to increase support for Maduro. Each was tasked with adding into a database 10 voters who have promised to vote for Maduro in the highly anticipated July 28 presidential election.
Local organizers as well as voters who pledged their support were expected to receive verification phone calls Sunday. Organizers who had not yet entered voter information into the database due to lack of internet access or experience with databases received help at party meetings across the country.
On election day, local party leaders must ensure the voters they registered make it to the polls no matter what.
The effort to measure support comes as Chavistas – devotees of the late fiery leader Hugo Chávez – are no longer the reliable force that easily claimed electoral victories while the often divided opposition continues to work in unison.
The changes within each bloc have been driven primarily by the complex economic and political crisis that undid the country. As a result, the election is the biggest challenge faced by the ruling party since Chávez, Maduro’s mentor and predecessor, became president more than two decades ago and began what he described as Venezuela’s socialist revolution.
“We are already approaching record numbers,” Maduro said Sunday evening without offering figures. “The level of organization that you have reached at this point is impressive.”

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