Monday, December 03, 2007

Democracy wins in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez's constitutional referendum has failed, 51-49. So, no presidency-for-life for Chavez; he'll have to reconcile himself to passing on the reins of power, according to the existing constitution.

As for the other reforms, while there's a lot there I agree with, a constitutional referendum is not the place for them. Rather, they should be debated and enacted by the legislature. Chavez has an overwhelming majority there (thanks in no small part to the opposition boycotting the last elections - a stupid, counterproductive tactic), and half the reforms were added to the list by the legislature in the first place, so its not as if he won't be able to get them through. But he'll have to do it constitutionally, according to the normal legislative process, rather than being able to change the world in an instant. And while that may be slower, it will also give the reforms he does manage to enact far more democratic legitimacy and durability than the referendum would have.