In further, and hopefully final, news on the Venezuelan constitutional reform front, (which I talked about earlier here,) Chavez’s proposed reforms were defeated in the public referendum, 51% to 49%. Given his almost complete lack of opposition in the Venezuelan Congress, these reforms were starting to seem inevitable, so I was both surprised and relieved to hear that the public had voted them down.
The NPR story from this morning noted that the “No” campaign had been aided by some recent rather high profile “defections” from Chavez’s camp:
High-profile defections had strengthened the opposition in recent weeks. Among them was the former Chavez loyalist and Defense Minister Raul Baduel. He stepped down this summer and later condemned the constitutional package Chavez proposed as an undemocratic grab for power.
“The nature of the Constitution does not permit one side or another to compromise it,” Baduel said. “It is a contract … between the people and the state.”