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04 December 2007
Abstentions defeated Chavez
As we reported yesterday, Hugo Chavez Frias' plans to change the Venezuelan Constitution failed by the narrowest of margins. The entrails still need to be read, but one thing has already become clear: almost 44% of the population didn't bother to vote.

One possible reason for that massive abstention could be voter fatigue. The people of Venezuela only re-elected Chavez Frias last year, and since he first took office in 1998 it seems as if elections and referenda have arrived thick and fast.

Many people, myself included, are political junkies, but many more aren't. It is not beyond the realms of possibility to argue that having given Chavez Frias a 63% mandate last year, many people just didn't fancy standing in the sweltering heat for hours to vote on yet more changes.

The President will remain in office until 2013, so he has plenty of time to entrench his revolution. The important thing now may just be to give people a rest from voting. Chavez Frias has enormous powers as president already, so he can still make some of the changes that he wants.

More likely is that great numbers of people wanted to vote against the proposal but were too frightened to do so, given the persecution that anti-Chavez voters have faced in the past.

Chavez's "socialism" will last just about as long as high oil prices, and then, if not before, the country will descend into the worst kind of authoritianism and in-fighting amongst the Chavista elite. Forget Bolivar as the model, think Nigeria.

4 December 2007 at 20:15  

O-Kay... So they vote for him time and time again, and then all of a sudden they get frightened?

Only in the mind of a spaz could that be a credible argument.

4 December 2007 at 22:23  

It's easier to go along with the herd if you believe that one day term limits will remove the fear anyway. Not so easy when it is proposed that those limits be abolished.

5 December 2007 at 22:12  

What fear? You seem to have this fantasy that we are all arse-licking scum who just love management filth and who just can't wait to get to bastard work tomorrow.Bad news - most of us aren't wired up that way.

Chavez needs to take stock, but the notion that the ordinary people who have supported him all these years are secretly afraid of him is bollocks.

The middle class dog shit are still afraid and that is the way that it should be. Let's hope that he can come up with something quick just to remind them who is in charge.

5 December 2007 at 22:18  

Indeed, Exile. Perhaps that's why his proposal failed to get the necessary number of votes -- because Venezuelans are not arse-licking scum who just love their new socialist masters?

And isn't it the case that some people are doing very well indeed out of the oil boom -- I heard that imports of luxury goods such as scotch whisky had increased to an extent that the government had slapped tariffs on them.

Exile, I think you are reading more into the so-called Bolvarian "revolution" than is merited. Chavez is not the first president to rule by decree, or try amending the constiution, or use the funds from oil sales to broaden a populist base amongst the less well-off. These have been the staple policies and outcomes of much of Latin American nationalism in the 20th century. I still maintain that the much-trumpeted transformations of Venzuelan society will be revealed as pretty hollow once oil prices come down, as they surely will eventually. You may come to regret the blind eye that has been turned to the authoritarian tendencies on display in Venezuela when socialism, once again, is revealed as an empty promise built on a house of cards.

5 December 2007 at 23:54  

You're going around in circles. Earlier on you claimed that they were afraid, now you claim that they are not, but resent their "socialist masters".

You may very well be right about the oil price, but so what? People like me have spent long years on the dole so we are used to bad times. Why should Venezuelans be any different? So long as the good times are rolling now, and so long as we are gaining, that is what matters.

Chavez Frias was only elected last year, so I still think that voter fatigue is to blame. He can do plenty to put types like you in the poorhouse without yet another referenda.

Let's hope he does.

6 December 2007 at 00:10  

So long as the good times are rolling now, and so long as we are gaining, that is what matters.

I think that is a bit short-sighted. Oil wealth can be a mixed blessing for a people, just as being born with a silver spoon can ruin a person's character. I wouldn't say that oil wealth has been a benefit to many ordinary Arabs in Saudi or the Emirates, even though they have benefited financially from it to the extent that the KSA enjoyed a welfare state before the UK, and in other countries, the State can finance spending without levying taxes. Easy money -- which I know is your favorite kind, Exile, although I also know you've seldom come across it -- can make a person lazy, cultivate bad habits, and be unwilling to move with the times. Better to accept the windfall in good grace, use it productively, but avoid becoming dependent on it, as the Norwegians have managed to do.

6 December 2007 at 16:39  

Easy money to me is a shorthand for income that does not require a great deal of effort to obtain - it doesn't refer to the amount of money obtained.

I fell out of bed at 11.00am today and found a survey in my in-box. Question one was "Are you responsible for choosing your gas and electricity supplier?"

I answered no and the next screen said thank you very much and my account was credited with 50p. Easy money - do you see what I mean?

Another example... I have two posts pending. One is 50 words and the other 200. Between them they will pay me 15 quid. They will take me about 20 minutes to write. Easy money.

As for your short sighted comment, yes you may be right, but so what? Bastard work is where we go to get money, the place where we labour is not ours, neither are its problems nor its profits.

If we can use our collective muscle to ensure more for less we would have to be mugs not to do it.

6 December 2007 at 18:01  

Meh that Vote was more about proving that Chavez was more Democratic than the West. He is now a fairer leader than all the Western powers put together.

They can gargle his balls now and they know it, he proved that He's better than Bush by accepting Defeat, He doesn't Need a JEB Bush to screw up the numbers at all...

I find it Hilarious I kinda secretly hope maybe Tony Blair or G.W. Bush go down there and go to town on his man meat.

9 December 2007 at 08:12  

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