…in the polls. The latest Venezuelan survey results show the thug-o-crat losing in his bid to revoke his term limit, expand his powers, and further his socialist fantasies under the guise of “constitutional reform:”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lost his lead eight days before a referendum on ending his term limit, an independent pollster said on Saturday, in a swing in voter sentiment against the Cuba ally.
Forty-nine percent of likely voters oppose Chavez’s proposed raft of constitutional changes to expand his powers, compared with 39 percent in favor, a survey by respected pollster Datanalisis showed.
Just weeks ago, Chavez had a 10-point lead for his proposed changes in the OPEC nation that must be approved in a referendum, the polling company said.
Despite the swing, company head Luis Vicente Leon said he did not rule out a comeback by the popular president.
Chavez has trounced the opposition at the polls on average once a year and can deploy a huge state-backed machinery to get out the vote, Leon said.
Still, the survey was the latest blow to Chavez. He has suffered a series of defections over his plan, including an ex-defense minister who had restored him to power after a brief 2002 putsch but who called Chavez’s reforms a new “coup.”
What does a thug-o-crat do when faced with increasing unpopularity? Threaten, threaten, threaten:
resident Hugo Chavez warned his supporters on Friday that anyone voting against his proposed constitutional changes would be a “traitor,” rallying his political base before a referendum that would let him seek unlimited re-election in 2012 and beyond.
Brandishing a little red book listing his desired 69 revisions to Venezuela’s charter, Chavez exhorted his backers to redouble their efforts toward a victorious “yes” vote in the Dec. 2 ballot.
“He who says he supports Chavez but votes ‘no’ is a traitor, a true traitor,” the president told an arena packed with red-clad supporters. “He’s against me, against the revolution and against the people.”
His speech followed the recent high-profile defection of his former Defense Minister Gen. Raul Baduel, a longtime ally who called the president’s proposed reforms a “coup.” Others have also broken with the Chavista movement in recent months, including politicians of the small left-leaning party Podemos.
Chavez’s opponents accuse him of concentrating power and seeking to be president-for-life like his close friend Fidel Castro of Cuba. Chavez insists he will only stay on as long as Venezuelans continue to vote for him.
“If you don’t approve (the referendum), maybe we’ll have time for a parachute jump in five years,” Chavez, a former paratrooper, told the crowd. “But if you wish—if you approve the referendum—I will stay as long as God wills! Until the last bone of my skeleton dries out!”
Ziva at Babablu Blog urges Venezuelans: “Go to the polls and vote Venezuela, say no to the dictator!”
Daniel at Venezuela News and Views also urges compatriots not to sit out the vote:
I do not know whether this serves to convince people to go to vote or not, but it seems to me that it makes a case that by going to vote NO, no matter how much cheating Chavez is already doing, we have a better chance to make our point that the new constitution is inviable. In fact we even have a chance to stop it! If we stay home we know that even with a 20% of Venezuelans Chavez will try to impose it anyway if he has enough spread, which he is sure to get if we stay home.
Besides, if you stay home you relinquish any right you have to say that your vote was stolen. It is that simple.