Today, some 17 million Venezuelans go to the polls to vote in a referendum to decide whether officials, the President and other elected persons, such as legislators, Mayors, Councillors etc, can be re-elected indefinitely rather than for a set number of terms.
President Hugo Chavez, who has been in power now for ten years, has repeatedly said he is prepared to govern for ‘ another fifty years’, or ‘until God decides’.
‘Chavismo’, as it is called, lost some regional power after local elections in November 2008 but, using its ‘influence’, it has managed to muster support for the referendum. The President has been mobilising resources during an intense campaign and is even organising ‘patrols’ to seek out voters and take them to the polling centres.
A Spanish deputy from the European parliament, Luis Herrero, invited by a local opposition party to monitor the referendum, was expelled from Venezuela after reportedly labeling Hugo Chavez a ‘dictator’.