Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Democracy in danger in Venezuela

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, currently facing re-election this year, has said that he is thinking of amending the constitution to remove the current two-term limit - allowing him to potentially run for a third term in 2012. And so the popularly-elected president threatens to turn into the "president-for-life" which has plagued so many nations for the past half-century...

No constitution is carved in stone, but seeking an amendment specifically to prolong your term in office is not how the game is played. A constitution is not something to be tinkered with by those in power for their own electoral advantage. If Chavez had any respect for democracy, he would abandon this idea, and accept the fact that one day he will not be in power. Until he does that, democracy in Venezuela must be considered to be in danger.


There is a similar move going on in the US at the moment to overturn their presidential limit. Unfortunately I can't remember where I read it and can't find it through google.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/21/2006 06:56:00 AM

He wouldn't be President for Life though - he'd still have to be re-elected every few years, which is no different to our system.

Helen could stay as PM forever if she could keep getting re-elected as Labour leader and win the election each time.

Posted by Rich : 2/21/2006 09:07:00 AM

anon: maybe here.

Posted by Rich : 2/21/2006 09:13:00 AM

I'm sorry i don't understand.

Chavez seems to want to follow the protocol laid down in the democraticaly ratified constitution to allow the democratic election of a president. How exactly does this endanger democracy?

Posted by Anonymous : 2/21/2006 11:47:00 AM

There are a number of reasons why in South America that there has been a two term limit imposed by quite a few countries.

The main reason where this limit did not apply there ended up with problems of major electoral fraud and imprisionment of opposition parties, etc. as a current President tried to hang onto power.

The two term limt has been put into place to stop an abuse of power eventually happening.

Also presidents in most countries have significant amount of power which is different to elected government though a majority of seats.

For example, the Republicans may lose control of one or both houses in the US in the Nov 2006 elections.

But the President of the US still holds significant powers (including the power to veto any legislation he doesn't approve of) until 2008 when his term ends.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/21/2006 01:02:00 PM

The two-term limit on presidents in the US comes in the form of the 22'nd amendment which passed in 1951. There have been grumblings from both the right and the left in the wake of their respective favorite presidents to overturn it.

However to do so would require a new amendment which would take super-majority in both houses of Congress and assent from the legislatures in 3/4ths of the states.

In short...not gonna happen.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2006 07:04:00 PM