Chávez suffered the first major electoral defeat of his political career in December 2007 when voters narrowly rejected, by 51 to 49 percent, a referendum on 69 proposed amendments to the Venezuelan constitution. The amendment that drew the most attention and opposition was one that would have removed term limits on the president, allowing Chávez to seek another term in 2012 and beyond. Chávez argued that the measures were necessary to speed Venezuela’s transformation to a socialist society.
However, the term limit amendment, along with one that would have given Chávez the power to declare a state of emergency for an unlimited period, alienated some of his more moderate supporters, including the leader of a leftist political party and a prominent retired general who had supported Chávez against the 2002 coup attempt. The proposed amendments also cost him some support in poor neighborhoods, where voter turnout was not as high as during the 2006 presidential election. Chávez asked voters to revisit the term limit issue in a referendum in February 2009. This time the Venezuelan president proposed the removal of term limits not only for the president but also for other elected officials, and the referendum was successful, winning 54 percent of the vote. Without term limits, Chávez could run for reelection in 2012 and beyond. "Venezuela" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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