In a stunning result, the Venezuelan people have rejected President Hugo Chavez’ proposed Constitutional changes, which would have granted him broad dictatorial powers in case of “emergency” (which he could declare) and voided term limits, essentially allowing him to become “President for Life.” Simon Romero has the story for The New York Times:
Voters in this country narrowly defeated a proposed overhaul to the constitution in a contentious referendum over granting President Hugo Chávez sweeping new powers, the Election Commission announced early Monday.
It was the first major electoral defeat in the nine years of his presidency. Voters rejected the 69 proposed amendments 51 to 49 percent.
The political opposition erupted into celebration, shooting fireworks into the air and honking car horns, when electoral officials announced the results at 1:20 a.m. The nation had remained on edge since polls closed Sunday afternoon and the wait for results began.
The outcome is a stunning development in a country where Mr. Chávez and his supporters control nearly all of the levers of power. Almost immediately after the results were broadcast on state television, Mr. Chávez conceded defeat, describing the results as a “photo finish.”
Read the whole story at the link above. Earlier reports, linked at Gateway Pundit, predicted a Chavez victory, but each succeeding one sounded less and less sure. The actual results were probably a huge landslide against – enough to convince Chavez and his cronies that claiming victory would result in a popular coup.
Special credit should go to Globovision (in Spanish), which kept the process in the daylight.