Venezuelan referendum ends presidential term limits

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A referendum held Sunday in Venezuela, has resulted in a change to the Constitution of Venezuela. The change ends term limits for elected officials including the President of Venezuela.

The official results showed 6,319,636 in favor with 5,198,006 opposed, yielding a 54.8% to 45.1% balance. 30.1% of the approximately 17 million voters abstained.

Hugo Chávez in 2008
Image: Agência Brasil.

President Hugo Chávez will now be allowed to run for re-election in 2012. A similar referendum in 2007 was narrowly defeated.

"The doors of the future are wide open," President Chávez declared from the balcony of the Miraflores Palace after the results were announced. "In 2012 there will be presidential elections, and unless God decides otherwise, unless the people decide otherwise, this soldier is already a candidate."

Ahead of the vote, opposition leader, Leopoldo López, told BBC News: "In 10 years we have had 15 elections, 15, and this has been the most unequal, the most abusive campaign of all. So that's why you are seeing more propaganda, more campaigning, more advertisement for the 'yes' vote."

However, a United States Department of State spokesperson said that the election was a "fully democratic" process despite troubling reports of intimidation of the opposition.