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VENEZUELA
Chávez claims victory
12/5/2008
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Ruling party celebrates big wins in gubernatorial elections, but loses capital mayoral race.

The United Socialist Party, or PSUV, of President Hugo Chávez, won 17 of Venezuela´s 22 states in the Nov. 23 gubernatorial elections, but lost several key races and the mayoral election in the capital, Caracas.

Opposition parties won over the states of Carabobo, Miranda, Tachira, and maintained their hold on the governors´ offices in opposition strongholds Nueva Esparta and Zulia. These five states hold most of Venezuela´s wealth and comprise the so-called “electoral corridor” for their voter importance.

Many analysts said that the election results reflected Venezuela´s deep polarization as all states either voted in pro- or anti-Chávez governors, without leaving space for third options, including Chávez dissidents.

In states Aragua, Guarico and Sucre, whose governors had once followed Chávez but decided to run under other parties, they failed.

The most resounding defeat was that of Marisabel Rodríguez, Chávez´s ex-wife, who lost the mayoral race in Irribarren in the Lara state with just over 6,600 votes compared with her pro- Chávez opponent Amalia Sáez, who won 185,500 votes.

“Traitors were pulverized,” said Chávez. “Their fate is political death.”

Fueled by his wins, following the election, Chávez tasked his party with writing another constitutional amendment that would let him run for indefinite reelection, less than a year after sweeping constitutional reforms that included a similar proposal, were rejected in a nationwide referendum.

To hold a vote on the amendment, the initiative needs to be backed by 15 percent of registered voters, or by 30 percent of the 167 lawmakers. A nationwide referendum would be required for final approval.

“I´m sure that now we will achieve it,” Chávez said. “We´re going to show who is in charge in Venezuela.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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