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Freedom’s flame still flickers in Venezuela
Posted by: McQ on Monday, December 03, 2007

An amazing turnabout. Congratulations to the opposition to dictatorship in Venezuela:
Voters in this country narrowly defeated a proposed overhaul to the constitution in a contentious referendum over granting President Hugo Chávez sweeping new powers, the Election Commission announced early Monday.

It was the first major electoral defeat in the nine years of his presidency. Voters rejected the 69 proposed amendments 51 to 49 percent.


The outcome is a stunning development in a country where Mr. Chávez and his supporters control nearly all of the levers of power. Almost immediately after the results were broadcast on state television, Mr. Chávez conceded defeat, describing the results as a “photo finish.”

“I congratulate my adversaries for this victory,” he said. “For now, we could not do it.”
Notice the little caveat - "For now, we couldn't do it".

"For now"... Chavez has other avenues with which to pursue these amendments and changes. But the quickest way, and the most "democratic" way (i.e. the way which would be most bullet proof when and if they were criticized or condemned) was to have a referendum. Now, most likely, he will have to turn to the National Assembly, which is packed with Chavistas, to have his way.

So why was this defeated? Well one reason is it was, to most people, even those who had previously supported Chavez, a constitutional bridge too far.
In recent weeks, members of previously splintered opposition movements joined disillusioned Chávez supporters in an attempt to defeat the referendum on constitutional changes. The plan would abolish term limits, allow Mr. Chávez to declare states of emergency for unlimited periods and increase the state’s role in the economy, among other measures.
Even to those in denial, it apparently became clear where this was headed and, given the opportunity, they joined with the opposition. Even his supporters seemed uneasy about the blatant power grab:
In Caracas on Sunday, turnout in poorer neighborhoods, where support for Mr. Chávez is strong, indicated that the referendum was drawing a mixed response. Lines were long in some areas and nonexistent in others.
Interesting stuff. But Chavez is a driven man not put off by setbacks or obstacles. Look for an incremental approach to now be used through the National Assembly. It may take longer, but I have no doubt that Chavez will figure out a way to get the result he wanted.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

If one wanted to be cynical, one would say that Chavez engineered the defeat, knowing that he could get what he wanted through the Assembly, and now can always point to this as an example of an election he lost for those who want to accuse him of fixing elections or being a dictator.
Written By: Sean
If they report he "narrowly lost" then he truly must’ve gotten destroyed in the vote...

Written By: shark
URL: http://
Where’s Carter when you need him?
Written By: looker
URL: http://
You know what I find funny is that so many Leftists LOVE Hugo, but accuse Dubya of wanting to be a dictator and/or to cancel the ’08 elections. How come it’s good for Chavez but wrong of George?
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"You know what I find funny is that so many Leftists LOVE Hugo, but accuse Dubya of wanting to be a dictator and/or to cancel the ’08 elections. How come it’s good for Chavez but wrong of George?"

In one word, racism. "Little brown people" are never responsible for their own actions to the leftofascist creeps. It’s the "white man’s burden" all over again.
Written By: E. Brown
Still, interesting he admitted to a loss.
Sean is right, that’s more or less the way he’s playing the cards on this one, that it shows he’s not a dictator.

Unless he’s going to claim fraud the other way after making ’discoveries’ about the election process. Then he can claim they did get the plebiscite after all, and his willingness to concede defeat was proof that he wouldn’t have been a dictator if the people really didn’t want it.

Written By: looker
URL: http://
I think he was hoping to ride popular support into legitimizing his dictatorship. Sort of like Hitler did.

This is a setback in that he no longer appears undefeatable and he will have to backdoor his goal to be President for Life making it slightly harder to defend at International forums.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Haha so he’s a dictator except when he’s playing at not being a dictator ? Seriously though this is good news. What’s worrying is that he seems to see it as a personal matter between him and his opponent organisations, rather than a democratic expression of the will of the people. I think he’s lost the plot...
Written By: Blewyn
URL: http://
I think he was hoping to ride popular support into legitimizing his dictatorship. Sort of like Hitler did.
Precisely. Now, after a short pause, he’ll move on to plan B.
Written By: McQ
Haha so he’s a dictator except when he’s playing at not being a dictator ?
I’m seeing it, just having a hard time believing it.

Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll bet it gets interesting.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Haha so he’s a dictator except when he’s playing at not being a dictator ?
In a word, yes.

Going into this he knew there were two ways to get his way.

Option 1 was a national referendum. The obvious advantage there is he could claim a level of legitimacy that would be hard for his critics to fault. The downside was he stood the possibility of losing. But Chavez, egoist that he is, felt that possibility was remote and he could talk enough supporters to vote his way to see it done. He totally miscalculated and that didn’t work.

But he always had option 2. Pass his constitutional amendments via the National Assembly. The obvious upside there is its a sure thing. The just as obvious downside is he can’t claim the legitimacy he so badly wanted by doing so.

But don’t bet that he won’t now go to the NA. He’s not going to peacefully give up power and leave what he’s trying to accomplish partially done. And that’s what dictators do.
Written By: McQ
All he needs to do it bundle the vote with something for the people who seek more of the govt dole, and he’ll nail it.

If bush promised a limo and a full meal for every meal for life, and cell phones and HD TVs for everyone, bundled with the amendment to make him Pres for Life, he’d get it.

Because The Masses are Stupid.
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
"Because The Masses are Stupid."

I don’t know if I would phrase it quite like that, but I know that at least 50% of the masses are below average. Except in Lake Woebegone.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I too am shocked at his concession. I’m afraid that he might not be as stupid as I had hoped. Mankind has historically benefitted greatly by the fact that most tyrants’ meglomania drives them to self-destruct sooner rather than later, and it’s usually just a question of how many they’re going to take with them when they do. Chavez has just demonstrated that he is capable of temporarily suppressing his ego and will to power when it is in his best political interest to do so. Which means Chavez might be around for a while, extending and deepening the economic damage he will ultimately inflict upon Venezuela.


Written By: peter jackson
I was also taken aback by his swift concession, I would have expected him to start whining about American imperialist agents having suppressed the democratic wishes of the noble proletariat or something like that. However, 49 percent of the electorate voting FOR this blatant attempt to concentrate power in himself is still startling.
Let us hope that the people from the "poorer neighborhoods" where Chavez got fewer support than he must have hoped, that those people have realized the true nature of the man who has tried (and will surely keep trying) to take away what liberty they still have.
Written By: Greg
URL: http://

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