Monday, February 16, 2009
Venezuelan constitutional referendum on removing term limits
The provisional results of the Venezuelan constitutional referendum are out . The referendum was on removing term limits on the number of times people can stand for re-election.
The referendum was seen as one on Hugo Chavez's government and, as such, it is good that more than 54% of the voters voted Yes. The right-wing opposition in the country - which were campaigning hard for a No vote - have been defeated. This is also a defeat for the foreign powers who are opposed to Venezuela's government - such as the US and Columbia.
The Right have accused the government of turning the country into a dictatorship. This is clearly false as the fact is that the electorate were able to vote freely. And they freely chose to support Hugo Chavez - as they have done on a number of occassions before.
Lula, the Brazilian president, points out that much of the criticism of this referendum by right-wingers outside Venezuela is inconsistent. He pointed out that they didn't oppose the Columbian leader Uribe amending the constitution to extend his term of office and so it is inconsistent to criticise Chavez for wanting to do the same.
However, one thing we on the Left need to bear in mind is that we must not associate the political movement to the left in Venezuela with just one individual. The Left needs to be strong enough to be able to win elections and win people over even without Chavez as a figurehead. If Chavez stands down at the next election or after a third term if winning it, then left-wing forces need to be able to build roots in the population which will ensure a continued support for the achievements of the last decade - and a support which is based on ideas and ideology rather than on personality.