Monday, December 03, 2007

Chavez: Winning by Losing?

As all the wire services are reporting this morning, Hugo's constitutional reforms were voted down 51%-49% in a low turn out referendum. Mr. Chavez, refusing to take a page from the Manuel Bartlett PRI playbook, is accepting the defeat quite humbly, even going so far as to say that he wouldn't have wanted to have just scraped by with a narrow victory for such far reaching changes.

I'd say he's playing it pretty well:

Chavez told reporters at the presidential palace that the outcome of Sunday's balloting had taught him that "Venezuelan democracy is maturing." His respect for the verdict, he asserted, proves he is a true democratic leader.

"From this moment on, let's be calm," he proposed, asking for no more street violence like the clashes that marred pre-vote protests. "There is no dictatorship here."

Look at it this way, he's been President since 1999; now 2012 will mark the end of his "reign". In other words after 8 years in power, he loses a big election but is still looking at another 4+ years (minimum, another reform vote could be taken between now and then). Also, he's not exactly hurting for power now under the current rules. It is not clear to me how the implementation of his vision so far has been crippled by the old constitution (after all, he largely wrote that one as well). And the big plus is, now he has some serious democratic street cred. How can you call him a dictator now? How can you rant about his authoritarianism?

Geez, maybe he WANTED to lose??

1 comment:

Tom said...

Never say Chavez is shrewd. No doubt, he is watching Putin and learning how to win elections.