Venezuelan term limits

With the approval of yesterday’s Venezuelan referendum, not only will President Hugo Chavez be eligible to run again when his current term ends in 2012 (and again in 2019…), but also we have one less country with legislative term limits. The referendum removes term limits on all elected officials, not only the president. Venezuela’s Chavista constitution was among the very few countries where national legislators have (or had) limits on the number of terms they can serve.

Mexico has prohibited consecutive terms for legislators since the 1930s, as has Costa Rica since the 1940s. I believe the Philippines still has limits on the number of terms its legislators may serve. Ecuador did at one time, but I recall they were lifted. (Maybe someone knows the details.) Of course, several US states have such limits. But legislative term limits are rare overall. They just became a bit rarer.

For lots of graphs and other analysis of the referendum, see Caracas Chronicles. See also boz’s five points. Greg Weeks makes a point with which I heartily concur: “I would add that the opposition deserves more analytical scrutiny, given that Chávez has been in power a decade [in which there have been regular elections] but it remains fragmented and incoherent.”

2 thoughts on “Venezuelan term limits

  1. So the good news (for me, anyway) is that I can now read El Pais with my morning coffee, printed on real newsprint. Thank you, La República.

    Anyway, with the Venezuelan presidential election October 7, it’s been in the news a lot, and today’s Peruvian-edition El País had the prominent and somewhat bizarre headline “Encuestas auguran un resultado incierto en las presidenciales de octubre” (Polls predict an uncertain result in the October presidential elections). This seems to be stretching the predictive power of polls to the limit. (The web edition sensibly changed the headline to “Chávez fears a defeat in Venezuela” but kept the other one as a tagline.)

    Still, when I thought about it, it does have the core of accidental truth. If Henrique Capriles loses by a small margin, the result will indeed be uncertain, and we’ll be once again be drowning in accusations and counter-accusations of electoral fraud. Meanwhile, if Capriles wins by a small margin, there is also likely to be lots of confusing claims and counterclaims, although it’s going to be hard to sustain any argument that Capriles has magic illegitimate election-winning powers. (But he does have a lot of money on his side.)

    The polls themselves are definitely uncertain, ranging from a 20% advantage for Chávez to a 2-3% advantage for Capriles. However, recent polls in Venezuela have not exactly been paragons of accurate predicting (and apparently this syndrome is increasingly frequent in the world); I don’t know how the polls are designed, but it’s certainly possible that Venezuelans would feel uncomfortable revealing their voting preference to a stranger.

    I just thought I’d add this little news item here, the closest relevant planting, by way of encouraging a new sprout on Venezuela, while we’re waiting for the results.

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