[I'm posting Lucas's Chavez comment on Sean's "Ordinary Usage" post here--to keep comments organized. Please let me know whether this is a bad or unwanted move. Also: I will keep Sean's comment on Chavez in the "Ordinary Usage" thread, since it's still Beitz-related. For that thread, click here. --TP Administrator.]
I don't know whether it's better to start a new post, or paste this here.
"Venezuela's Chavez proposes referendum on holding office until 2031"
Caraca, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that Venezuelan voters should have the chance to decide whether he should govern the country for the next 25 years.
Speaking at a stadium packed with supporters in central Lara state, Chavez said he would hold a referendum to put the question of his remaining in office to Venezuelans if the opposition pulls out of upcoming presidential elections.
"I am going to ask you, all the people, if you agree with Chavez being president until 2031," he said.
It was not clear if Chavez was talking about holding a legally binding vote to eliminate term limits or proposing a plebiscite.
Chavez said Friday that he said he might seek "indefinite" re-election through a referendum if the opposition boycotts the presidential vote.
"I would call a national referendum to have the people decide if I can continue here indefinitely or if I have to go after six years," he said.
Opposition leaders accuse Chavez, a former paratroop commander first elected in 1998, of becoming increasingly authoritarian and opening dangerous divisions along class lines in Venezuela — the world's fifth largest oil exporter.
The Venezuelan Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. Chavez is eligible for re-election to another six-year term in December, but if he wins he would not be able to run again in 2012.
Polls indicate Chavez is likely to win the Dec. 3 election, and international observers have signed off on recent votes as fair.
Four government opponents have announced plans to run against Chavez, although not all have agreed to participate in primaries to choose a single opposition candidate.