Venezuelans Lift Term Limits


With close to 70 percent voter turnout and affirmations of the transparency of the process by international election observers, Venezuelans approved an amendment to their country's constitution to remove term limits on certain elected officials, Sunday, Feb. 15th.

The passage of the referendum will allow many elected officials to run for the same office again after two terms, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, whose second term comes to an end in 2013. A number of countries, including Britain, enforce no term limits on their head of state.

According to data released by Venezuela's election commission, with more than 94 percent of the vote tallied, the referendum appeared to have passed by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.

Jesse Chacón, Minister of Communication and Information, said that all Venezuelans should feel pride in the accomplishment of peaceful elections. “We are on the path of participatory democracy. In all of Europe and Latin America, an amendment like this one would not be approved by the people, but by congress,” he remarked to the press.

In a speech at the presidential residence at Mira Flores in Caracas, President Chávez said, “The people, representing themselves, are glowing in their own lights and democratic, humanist, and Bolivarian virtues. The world sees the glow of the people of Simón Bolívar!”

The election outcome is regarded as a significant victory for President Chávez who failed to win national approval last year for a more ambition social agenda that would have set the country on a more direct course toward a socialist system.

After that electoral setback, President Chávez agreed to abide by the outcome but pledged to continue to appeal to the people for more significant social changes.

During his speech, Chávez reached out to those who voted against the referendum saying that the outcome and the process was a victory for all Venezuelans and that he hoped they would “recognize the Venezuelan people’s victory with dignity.”

Leaders of several opposition parties recognized the legitimacy of the election and expressed the hope that all Venezuelans would respect the results.