Monday, December 3, 2007

No Go, Hugo

The people of Venezuela said No to President Hugo Chávez’s attempt to change the national constitution.

Voters in this country narrowly defeated a proposed overhaul to the constitution in a contentious referendum over granting President Hugo Chávez sweeping new powers, the Election Commission announced early Monday.

It was the first major electoral defeat in the nine years of his presidency. Voters rejected the 69 proposed amendments 51 to 49 percent.

The political opposition erupted into celebration, shooting fireworks into the air and honking car horns, when electoral officials announced the results at 1:20 a.m. The nation had remained on edge since polls closed Sunday afternoon and the wait for results began.

The outcome is a stunning development in a country where Mr. Chávez and his supporters control nearly all of the levers of power. Almost immediately after the results were broadcast on state television, Mr. Chávez conceded defeat, describing the results as a “photo finish.”

“I congratulate my adversaries for this victory,” he said. “For now, we could not do it.”

Opposition leaders were ecstatic. “Tonight, Venezuela has won,” said Manuel Rosales, governor of Zulia State and the opposition’s candidate in presidential elections last year.

I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from the dictatorial aspirations of Mr. Chávez. Guys like this do not give up easily. Maybe he’ll issue some signing statements that will ignore the votes or something.

Anyway, kudos to the people of Venezuela for rejecting the blatant attempt to trash their constitution.