Friday, November 30, 2007

Democracy may win in Venezuela

Venezuela will go to the polls this weekend in a constitutional referendum. While the referendum will amend large parts of Venezuela's constitution, the primary aim is to extend the Presidnetial term and repeal the existing two-ternm limit, allowing President Hugo Chavez to run for further terms rather than having to retire at the end of 2012. No matter what you think of Chavez's policies, this sort of self-interested constitutional tinkering is deeply undemocratic and constitutionally dangerous, and something no democrat should endorse. While no constitution is carved in stone (and neither ought they to be), changes of this nature need to be done for some reason other than prolonging your own time in power.

The good news is that according to recent polling, the referendum may fail:

A survey for Datanalisis, a polling company, said 49% of likely voters would vote no and 39% would vote yes. A tracking poll by the opposition-linked Hinterlaces pollster predicted a technical tie.
The bad news is that Venezuelan polls are notoriously unreliable, given that they tend to be performed by partisan agencies and avoid poling the poor. But there's at least some hope that democracy may win in Venezuela, and it may avoid further sliding into authoritarianism.

Update: And OTOH, it looks like the CIA is up to its usual dirty tricks again. It would be nice if the "exporter of democracy" actually lived by its rhetoric and let the people of other countries make their own decisions, rather than seeking to covertly influence or even overturn them [Hat tip: Dawg's Blog].