Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bye Bye Venezuela: Chavez Wins Referendum, Gets to Run Again

They're finished.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez won the right to stay in power for as long as he keeps winning elections in a referendum vote on Sunday that bolsters support for his socialist and anti-U.S. policies.

Electoral authorities said 54 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment to remove limits on re-election and allow Chavez to stay in office until he is defeated at the ballot box in the OPEC nation. Forty-six percent voted "No."

The margin of victory was larger than expected after opinion polls before the vote had given Chavez only a slim lead.

Chavez, whose current term ends in 2013, has already been in power for 10 years and his win in this referendum win helps clear the way for him to fulfill stated his declared goal of ruling for decades.

The victory on Sunday allows Chavez, 54, to put behind him a damaging vote loss in 2007, when his first attempt to remove constitutional restraints on his extended rule was defeated.

But overshadowing his victory is the global economic crisis, which will limit his ability to spend oil cash on nationalizing industries and extending his influence overseas.

Fireworks exploded above Caracas and caravans of cars and mortorbikes sped through the city as Chavez supporters clad in the red of his self-styled revolution celebrated honking their horns and chanting "Heh-ho, Chavez won't go."
More here and here.

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