Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Venezuelan Referendum: A Post-Mortem and its Aftermath

by Prof. James Petras

Global Research, December 5, 2007

"Venezuela’s constitutional reforms supporting President Chavez’s socialist project were defeated by the narrowest of margins: 1.4% of 9 million voters. The result however was severely compromised by the fact that 45% of the electorate abstained, meaning that only 28% of the electorate voted against the progressive changes proposed by President Chavez. While the vote was a blow to Venezuela’s attempt to extricate itself from oil dependence and capitalist control over strategic financial and productive sectors, it does no change the 80% majority in the legislature nor does it weaken the prerogatives of the Executive branch. Nevertheless, the Right’s marginal win does provide a semblance of power, influence and momentum to their efforts to derail President Chavez’ socio-economic reforms and to oust his government and/or force him to reconcile with the old elite power brokers.

Internal deliberations and debates have already begun within the Chavista movement and among the disparate oppositional groups. One fact certain to be subject to debate is why the over 3 million voters who cast their ballots for Chavez in the 2006 election (where he won 63% of the vote) did not vote in the referendum. The Right only increased their voters by 300,000 votes; even assuming that these votes were from disgruntled Chavez voters and not from activated right-wing middle class voters that leaves out over 2.7 million Chavez voters who abstained......"

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