Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suffered his first electoral loss in nine years as voters turned down his plan to revamp the nation’s constitution and tighten his grip on power.
Voters refused to abolish presidential term limits or allow government censorship during declared emergencies. Chavez also sought to shorten the work day and end central bank autonomy.
Chavez’s 69 proposed changes to the constitution were grouped into two blocks. The first set lost 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent, the second block 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent. About 8.9 million people voted, or 56 percent of those eligible, according to a statement on the election agency’s Web site.
First the good news: Venezuelans rejected a constitutional reform that would further radicalize the country’s economy. Then the bad news: It really won’t make much of a difference. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez can bypass the results through decrees, local business leaders say.
The referendum over 69 changes to the constitution included reforms that would formally lift the central bank’s autonomy (and control over international reserves), reduce the work day from eight to six hours and give the government greater discretion in expropriating private property. One proposal included taking out references to the guarantees for private property (article 112 of the constitution) and instead create a “Socialist Economy.”
This shows, just like the 2000 and 2004 United States Presidential elections, the problem with democracy and republics. 4.512 and 4.548 million people have dictated 69 conditions for the other 11.381 and 11.345 million respectively. Even if you assume that the 6.993 million who didn’t vote don’t care either way, 49.3% and 48.9% of those who did vote are continuing to live under a system they don’t approve of.
I’m glad to see that some of Venezuelan people realize it’s a bad idea to allow the government to take control of so many things. Unfortunately for them, as the article says, Chavez still can implement many of his plans without approval from the people or their representatives. They could also attempt to place them on another national ballot. Given that it failed by such slim margins it could pass on another pass. I wonder why the 69 changes were split into 2 blocks instead of each having a separate vote. I’d imagine with how close the results were that some of them would have passed. I’m also very curious as to the reasons why so many did not turn up to vote. These were major changes proposed.