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Last updated at 10:40 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Venezuelan leader wins key reform


16th February 2009

Venezuelans have voted to lift limits on terms in office for elected officials, allowing President Hugo Chavez to stand for re-election.

Mr Chavez has said he needs to stay in office beyond 2012.

Will Grant

Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez


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After several hours of counting, the head of the country's electoral commission, Tivose Lucena confirmed on national television what many in the yes camp had been saying throughout this campaign.They had won with a clear majority. With 95% of the votes in, 54.3% had supported the measure to grant Mr Chavez the right to stand again for office at the end of his current term.

This was the kind of strong confirmation of his socialist agenda which Mr Chavez had been seeking. The opposition had hoped to build on its recent electoral successes, first in a similar vote in 2007 and then in local elections. But it is the socialist revolution led by Hugo Chavez which has been given a jolt in the arm by this result and the president's supporters are ecstatic.

Mr Chavez now faces the daunting task of grappling with the global economic crisis in a country dependent on exports of oil. In the past he has described Venezuela's economy as insulated from a drop in the oil price but few economists share his optimism.

The country's inflation is the highest in Latin America and there are serious domestic problems such as violent crime which he will need to tackle over the next four years if he is to ensure he can repeat this result in the presidential elections of 2012.

Will Grant, BBC News, Caracas


Click to hear the words


electoral commission
group of people responsible for managing the election and voting system
in the yes camp
people who support the campaign
supported the measure
agreed with the idea
the right to stand again for office
to be able to put himself forward as a candidate for president another time
to build on its recent electoral successes
to attract more voters and support
a jolt in the arm
a much needed boost
extremely happy and excited
grappling with
dealing with a difficult situation
insulated from
protected from
to tackle
to deal with, solve

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