Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday he was seeking a constitutional amendment to allow himself to seek re-election again, saying he hoped to lead the OPEC nation until 2021.
Hugo Chavez eyes presidency through to 2021
Mr Chavez said he was directing his ruling United Socialist party (PSUV) to seek a “constitutional amendment and reelection of the president of the republic” saying he was “ready (to govern) through 2021.”
“I give the PSUV and the Venezuelan people my authorisation to begin the debate and take the steps necessary to obtain that constitutional amendment and reelection of the president … and I am sure that we will get it now,” Mr Chavez said at the swearing-in of Caracas’ Libertador district’s mayor Jorge Rodriguez.
“I am ready, and if I am healthy, God willing, I will be with you until 2019, until 2021,” added the 54-year-old Chavez, seeking to propel the oil-rich but poverty-plagued country’s institutional socialism to over two decades long.
On Nov 24 – almost a year after losing a vote on extending his powers – Mr Chavez had said, “It’s the people’s right (to vote on the issue). We’ll see if the people use this right, and if all the country approves it or not if there is a referendum.”
In Dec 2007, a referendum that sought to declare Venezuela a socialist state and allow unlimited reelection did not prevail, and dealt Mr Chavez his first major defeat at the ballot box.
Just over a week ago Mr Chavez’s party scored a string of victories in key local polls, but in a blow to his socialist revolution the opposition won some major power centres.
The results shook up the political landscape of the South American nation, reducing the almost blanket authority of the fiercely anti-liberal Chavez and his party.
“The symbols won by the opposition are more than expected: they won the capital and states representing the economic and political heart of the country,” said Luis Vicente Leon from Datanalisis.
Some 45 per cent of the population will now be governed by policitians from the opposition, who won in states representing around 70 per cent of national economic activity.
But Mr Chavez said at the time that the opposition had suffered a “new, big defeat. They continue overestimating what happened as a victory. That’s crazy,” he argued.
If “we’re applying scientific analysis, the popular revolutionary victory continues growing.”
But Mr Chavez, a friend to communist Cuba and to fellow oil giants Iran and Russia, did lose some “mandate” authority in his quest to abolish term limits to try to win a third six-year term in 2012.
By Sunday, he was scrambling to regain lost ground, in a bid to make his revolution increasingly an institution.