Related News

Home » World

Venezuela decides if Chavez has future

VENEZUELANS were divided as they voted yesterday in a referendum that could end term limits for all elected officials and allow President Hugo Chavez to stay in office as long as he wins elections.

Critics say removing term limits would distort democracy by enabling a president to stay in power for decades, while Chavez, first elected in 1998, said the proposed constitutional amendment would deepen democracy by giving voters more choice. He said Franklin Roosevelt was elected United States president four times.

"Ten years is nothing. I don't know what they're complaining about," he said.

When the polls opened at 6am, long lines had already formed at many voting stations. Pre-election polls show the race is tight.

Yira Guerra, 52, said that thanks to Chavez her two children have access to free higher education.

"My son has obtained a bachelor's degree," Guerra said proudly, adding that she fears such advances will be stilted under another leader.

Without a constitutional amendment, Chavez will have to leave office in 2013. He lost a broader referendum in December 2007 that also sought to abolish presidential term limits, and says he can try again if he loses this time.

Chavez says he needs the amendment to seek re-election in 2012 and complete Venezuela's transition to socialism.

Supporters of a "no" vote say a Chavez victory would remove the last remaining check on the president's power. Since the opposition boycotted the 2005 congressional elections, the Chavez-dominated National Assembly has packed The Supreme Court and National Elections Council with Chavez allies.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend