Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Chavez gets nod to run indefinitely

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has won the right to stand for re-election indefinitely after a vote to scrap term limits on elected posts was passed.
Chavez, a flamboyant Socialist and former paratrooper, celebrated victory with crowds of red-clad supporters and said he intended to stand for a third term in 2012. Previously, the president was allowed only two consecutive terms, which would have forced Chavez to step down at the end of his second mandate in 2013.
Speaking to cheering supporters on Sunday from the balcony of his Miraflores palace, he said: “The doors of the future are wide open.
“In 2012 there will be presidential elections for the 2013-2019 period and, unless God has planned something else, unless the people have planned something else, this soldier is now a pre-candidate for the Republic’s presidency.”
Chavez – who is popular with the country’s poor for his oil-funded health care and education programs – has ruled for 10 years.
He is blamed by a vocal opposition for rising crime, corruption and inflation and will now have to tackle the effects of the global downturn on Venezuela’s oil-based economy. Chavez won a larger victory Sunday than polls had predicted, with around 54 per cent of preliminary results compared with slightly over 45 per cent for the opposition, according to the National Electoral Council. More than 11 million people out of some 17 million eligible voters took part, said Tibisay Lucena, the council’s president. Officials congratulated Venezuelans for voting calmly, while the opposition accepted the result but criticised Chavez’s massive state-sponsored campaign.”This was the campaign with most abuses of public resources that we have ever seen,” said Carlos Vecchio, a member of an opposition grouping. Leopoldo Lopez, one of the main opposition leaders, compared the campaign to a battle between David and Goliath in which Goliath won.
Critics charge that Chavez has too much power, with influence over the courts, lawmakers and the election council. From Buenos Aires to Havana and beyond, many watched the vote on the future of the fierce anti-liberal US foe and Latin American leftist champion. Chavez said he received his first congratulations from his mentor, former Cuban president Fidel Castro. The victory strengthens Chavez’s mandate and could prompt him to expand his socialist drive, which has included nationalisations and greater state control over the economy in recent years.

More articles