Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's Official - Chavez Loses

By Cernig

As I type, newswire tickers at nasdaq and the BBC are saying Chavez' reforms have failed to win voter's approval in Venezuela.

Reuters has this:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lost a tight vote on Sunday in a referendum on giving him new powers and scrapping term limits on his left-wing rule.

The national electoral authority said early on Monday the "No" camp won 51 percent of the vote compared to the pro-Chavez "Yes" camp's 49 percent.

It said the trend could not be reserved and declared Chavez the loser.

The referendum vote on a raft of reforms would have allowed Chavez to run for reelection indefinitely, control Venezuela's foreign currency reserves, appoint loyalists over regional elected officials and censor the media if he declares an emergency.

Chavez has said he wants to rule for life and turn Venezuela into a socialist state. But defeat will likely put the Cuba ally under intense pressure to slow or halt his self-declared socialist revolution and step down when his term ends in 2013.

Chavez called the referendum vote "a photo finish".
Now, what was that about a dictator who was rigging the vote to make sure he ruled forever? If he's going to do that, seems Chavez will have to take a more direct approach.

I wonder how rightwingers are going to explain being so wrong?

Meanwhile, mostly unwatched by the American Right, Vlad Putin has rigged himself a cushy number.
Vladimir Putin's party won a crushing victory in parliamentary elections Sunday, paving the way for the authoritarian leader to remain in control even after he steps down as president.

The vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for the United Russia party and for Putin, who has used a flood of oil revenues to move his country into a more assertive position on the global stage.

"The vote affirmed the main idea: that Vladimir Putin is the national leader, that the people support his course, and this course will continue," party leader and parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov said after exit polls were announced.

Several opposition leaders accused the Kremlin of rigging the vote, and the Bush administration called for a probe into voting irregularities. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov called the election "the most irresponsible and dirty" in the post-Soviet era and party officials vowed to challenge the results.
Polls just before the election had shown Putin's party had, at most, a 35% lead.

Now, will someone please explain why US conservatives got so worked up over the election in the tiny country and failed so badly to say anything much about the bigger, more rigged, election in the large and nuclear armed one? Everywhere but the U.S., the Russian authoritarian's victory is the lead story, not the Venezualan alleged-dictator's defeat.

Update Part of the Right's tactic appears to be to pretend it was everyone else, not them, who accused Chavez of being a "dictator-in-waiting." And then hope like hell no-one calls them on it. What a shameless lack of integrity. (Lest I be similiarly accused, I wrote and still believe that Chavez has mistakenly conflated his own power with the wellbeing of his nation. It's the beginning of becoming a dictator-in-waiting but it isn't there, quite.)

Update 2 Atrios has my answer (via The Sideshow):
I always find Hugo Chavez to be a somewhat annoying subject because he's neither the Satanic Hitler as reflected universally in our media (and it's really creepy how much he's distorted) nor the Great Savior Of The Left. He's a left wing populist with an authoritarian streak, but no matter what they say it's "left wing populist" which makes the Villagers froth, not the authoritarian part. There are plenty of dictators around the world which get respectful treatment from our media, and the anti-Democratic authoritarian actions of our own president disturb them not at all.
Avedon at The Sideshow adds:
I think Chavez' suggested changes were a bad idea, and I'm unsurprised that the people were not enthusiastic about them. But you can hardly argue that Chavez is a dictator because he asked the people if they'd let him make those changes, while at the same time pretending that Bush is not a dictator when he simply ignores the laws that the people don't want him to change. And the people have spoken.

Venezuela is looking a lot more like a democracy than some other countries I could name....

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