Chavez takes a body blow in elections

posted at 10:02 am on November 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Hugo Chavez may have just seen his hopes to make himself President-for-Life dissipate in his latest election loss.  Opposition parties made major inroads among previous Chavez supporters, including the urban poor who had made Chavez into a folk hero.  Now, with Latin America’s worst inflation and an oil-price collapse, Chavez’ failure to deliver appears to have people rethinking the revolution:

From the hardened slums of this city to some of Venezuela’s most populous and economically important states, many of President Hugo Chávez’s supporters deserted him in regional elections, showing it is possible to challenge him in areas where he was once thought invincible.

The outcome of Sunday’s vote was the second blow dealt to the president in a year, after voters rejected last December his plan to alter the Constitution to give himself more power. Although it was unclear whether the results would slow his Socialist-inspired revolution or check his power, they could complicate his ambitions to amend the Constitution to allow him to run again.

Mr. Chávez, who has been in power for 10 years, has focused on raising political consciousness across disenfranchised parts of society. Now, voters in a sizable part of Venezuela sent him a message that they wanted not a monopoly on power, but solutions to economic and social ills that are glaringly apparent on their streets.

Though Mr. Chávez’s allies won 17 of the 22 states in Sunday’s vote, his opponents did well in some poor urban areas, and in states like Zulia, where much of Venezuela’s oil is produced; Carabobo, the home of auto manufacturers and petrochemical plants; and Táchira, rich in agriculture and cattle. Mr. Chávez framed the elections as a plebiscite on his evolving revolutionary ideology, but voters appeared to focus on more mundane concerns like inflation, which at more than 30 percent is the highest rate in Latin America, and fears that an economic boom might be sputtering to an end as oil prices plunge, forcing Mr. Chávez to reconsider his spending plans.

It looks like Venezuelans don’t want to be Cuba South, nor do they seem as enamored of their Castro Mini-Me as before.  Rising violence has put the murder rate in Caracas at four times that of Medellin.  The Democrats in the US have blocked a free-trade agreement with Colombia because of the violence, but the Chavez government has proven spectacularly inept at keeping order.

Why might that be?  Probably because Chavez himself likes to threaten violence in his political tantrums.  He threatened to roll across the state of Carabobo if his political ally Mario Silva lost his position as governor.  Voters reacted by kicking Silva out of his seat anyway.

Chavez won 17 of 22 states, but he lost the critical unanimity on which he counted.  Chavez himself cast this election as a referendum on his governance, and despite threats and intimidation, voters delivered a message that they have tired of Chavez and his antics and expect responsible governance instead.  Chavez has never been able to deliver that, and now with his oil revenues disappearing and enery shortages throughout the nation, the outlook is bleak for sudden competence to magically appear.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

It’s not official yet. Jimmah Carter has yet to fly down to Caracas to certify that Chavez’ thugs did, in fact, win.

GoHskrs on November 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM

It would be very ‘savory’ if a democratic process kicked out a tyrant.

But does anyone really see Chavez ‘listening’ to the will of the people?

Tanks to roll in 3…2…1…

Religious_Zealot on November 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM

So his opponents won 5 out of 22 and are happy about it?

*shakes head*

lorien1973 on November 25, 2008 at 10:09 AM

He won’t ever leave, except in a body bag

Vashta.Nerada on November 25, 2008 at 10:13 AM

Economic turmoil always hurts the incumbent.

BadgerHawk on November 25, 2008 at 10:13 AM

So his opponents won 5 out of 22 and are happy about it?

*shakes head*

lorien1973 on November 25, 2008 at 10:09 AM

Wasn’t Saddam winning each “election” with -cough- 100% of the vote?

And I don’t think there was even an opposition party in Communist Russia (and there still may not be).

So, no, it’s not much, but it’s a start.

Religious_Zealot on November 25, 2008 at 10:14 AM

So Chavez tries to expand his power/stranglehold on “the people” and private industry, then they start to see inflation? Hmmm, didn’t Mugabe, Castro and others try this only to essentially destroy their countries’ prosperity?

perroviejo on November 25, 2008 at 10:15 AM

Economic turmoil always hurts the incumbent.

Heh.

lodge on November 25, 2008 at 10:17 AM

Why work when the pies are free — Trouble always begins when the pies run out.

tarpon on November 25, 2008 at 10:17 AM

voters appeared to focus on more mundane concerns like inflation, which at more than 30 percent is the highest rate in Latin America

Imagine how badly people here are going to freak out once it hits 10%.

BadgerHawk on November 25, 2008 at 10:17 AM

Wham! Castroboy takes one to the buttocks.
Phew! Smells like sulfur in here!

whitetop on November 25, 2008 at 10:18 AM

Is Obama that much different? We will see.

Mr. Joe on November 25, 2008 at 10:21 AM

This is a start.

sheebe on November 25, 2008 at 10:24 AM

HuffPo is in tears.

lodge on November 25, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Ed,

Perhaps a link to the new Iowahawk in the headlines? It’s quite good.

BadgerHawk on November 25, 2008 at 10:25 AM

The Democrats in the US have blocked a free-trade agreement with Colombia because of the violence, but the Chavez government has proven spectacularly inept at keeping order.

I have to wonder, are some key democraps on Chavez’s payroll? No, I’m not kidding. It wouldn’t be the first time. I remember Danny Ortega, communist, and his influence on key democraps back in the 80′s.

Zorro on November 25, 2008 at 10:26 AM

The problem here is desperate leaders to desperate things. Will he do something militarily to boost his #’s? Wag the dog?

portlandon on November 25, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Afuera! Out!

This hybrid gone awry of Castro and Che has got to go. He is causing severe damage to a free nation. Shutting down TV stations, creating time slots of when to show protests against Hugo, killing civilian opposition, importing Cuban doctors and teachers to indoctrinate and spy on Venezuelans, and rationing food. It’s starting. We’ll see if the people would go further in their opposition.

jencab on November 25, 2008 at 10:29 AM

Well, at least Chavez, unlike our Republican Party, knows socialism when he sees it.. http://tinyurl.com/6apjxv

hippie_chucker on November 25, 2008 at 10:29 AM

Hugo needs a Fairness Doctrine and Card Check, ASAP.

a capella on November 25, 2008 at 10:31 AM

OK but…doesn’t this result mean that Chavez ISN’T Castro or Saddam. He’s abiding by the democratic will of the people. It’s kind of hard to paint someone as an undemocratic despot while celebrating his loss of support in the democratic process. Why isn’t this obvious?

DeathToMediaHacks on November 25, 2008 at 10:31 AM

The outcome of Sunday’s vote was the second blow dealt to the president in a year, after voters rejected last December his plan to alter the Constitution to give himself more power. Although it was unclear whether the results would slow his Socialist-inspired revolution or check his power, they could complicate his ambitions to amend the Constitution to allow him to run again.

Are you listening, Obama?

Doug on November 25, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Chavez is too big to fail. He needs a bailout.

portlandon on November 25, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Pining for the fjords.

I laugh every single time. Funniest sketch ever.

But as for our dear Hugo, I can bear his misfortune with supreme self-disicipline and forbearance.

Bob's Kid on November 25, 2008 at 10:38 AM

I have to admit I haven’t done a lot of investigating on these articles but how did his ex-wife do in her campaign. I assume she lost since before the election it was covered pretty extensively.

Cindy Munford on November 25, 2008 at 10:44 AM

Hopefully this is foreshadowing for Obama. If the Venezuelan urban poor can wake up to the disaster that is Chavez, just maybe ours can learn from the Obama mistake a few years from now.

Grafted on November 25, 2008 at 10:45 AM

SO he took a body blow. I’d love to see him have to take several round house’s a plethera of upper cuts and severe Right crosses as well.

No tap outs!

44Magnum on November 25, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Given our current economic climate, Chavez’s bird is starting to look tasty. The People’s Bird says, this wasn’t the plan for Venezuela Socialism, where is ACORN?

Dr Evil on November 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Ed, I’ll take your “He’s pining for the fijords” and raise you one “He’s not dead yet”.

pseudonominus on November 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Chavez: Baraco Huseno Obama Ayudame!

Steve Z on November 25, 2008 at 11:02 AM

I’d hardly call this result a body blow, but I’ll tip a hat to a jab that lands where I see it.

Dusty on November 25, 2008 at 11:04 AM

Ed, I’ll take your “He’s pining for the fijords” and raise you one “He’s not dead yet”.

pseudonominus on November 25, 2008 at 11:01 AM

At the risk of taking this thread in a major off-topic direction……

I’ll see your bet and raise you a “His metabolic processes are of interest only to historians”

(see here, under “variations”.)

UltimateBob on November 25, 2008 at 11:11 AM

That is one funny photo at least. It belongs on a box of “The People’s Cereal”

LMAO

Kevin in Washington State on November 25, 2008 at 11:18 AM

There will be some sad faces in Hollywood with this news…

right2bright on November 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM

The axe is laid to the root.

I never get tired of that picture. Heh.

Joan of Argghh on November 25, 2008 at 11:26 AM

OK but…doesn’t this result mean that Chavez ISN’T Castro or Saddam. He’s abiding by the democratic will of the people. It’s kind of hard to paint someone as an undemocratic despot while celebrating his loss of support in the democratic process. Why isn’t this obvious?

DeathToMediaHacks on November 25, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Here is why; because he already tried to forcibly take over in a military coup in the early ’90′s. I’m betting the bleeders that taught you in school failed to mention that part of history. But hey, the end always justify’s the means, right Obama lovers?

yubley on November 25, 2008 at 11:51 AM

It looks like Venezuelans don’t want to be Cuba South, nor do they seem as enamored of their Castro Mini-Me as before.

Collapsing oil prices and economic policies that originate in Hugo’s coca-paste fueled fantasies will do that.

irishspy on November 25, 2008 at 11:57 AM

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person…..

DL13 on November 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Religious_Zealot on November 25, 2008 at 10:14 AM

With a ballot marked:

“Do you want Saddam Hussein as President?
_
Yes |_|
_
No |_|

with the benefit of their own version of Card Check as well.

DaveC on November 25, 2008 at 12:06 PM

“Do you want Saddam Hussein as President?”
. _
Yes |_|
. _
No |_|

Try my ascii check box one more time

DaveC on November 25, 2008 at 12:08 PM

._
|_|

there.. that’s what it should look like..

DaveC on November 25, 2008 at 12:09 PM

my wife was born in cuba and raised in venezuela since she was 5. her family has had to flee – first cuba, then a-hole chavez.
isn’t the definition of insanity defined as a person who repeats the same thing, over and over, expecting different results? this is what i can’t understand about socialists and the far left here in america. not to mention the obvious success of capitalism and lower taxes.

the violence in venezuela is so bad because chavez removed city officials and police captains who opposed him and installed his own cronies. popular destinations in various cities are deserted in comparison to what they used to be. you may get in a taxi and never make your destination. criminals, if caught, are able to negotiate their release with police on the spot. they offer enough money, they go free.
one of the first things chavez did was to increase the size of the venezuelan supreme court. they stood in his way with 19 judges by a margin of 10 to 9… he changed the constitution and added 10 more if his own. (as told by my uncle.)

i really and truly believed that nothing even remotely similar could happen here in the U.S… neither did my wife and her family… but with this populist election of the far-left obama… it sure has made things eventful at family gatherings, let’s just say. however, i think this was more about obama’s charisma and his race… i think obama will always be mythical to some, but not live up to any of his campaign promises. i hope- our family hopes.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Hugo Chavez is an interesting person, clearly he’s not a force good in the world (the state media, political oppression), but so far he hasn’t directly overwritten an election result, which is more then his friend Fidel has done for freedom.

amazingmets on November 25, 2008 at 12:19 PM

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Thanks for your perspective. I always figured as much of many Latin American countries. This is why I will NEVER visit one.

Badger40 on November 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM

OK but…doesn’t this result mean that Chavez ISN’T Castro or Saddam. He’s abiding by the democratic will of the people. It’s kind of hard to paint someone as an undemocratic despot while celebrating his loss of support in the democratic process. Why isn’t this obvious?

DeathToMediaHacks on November 25, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Many despots use elections to give an illusion of legitimacy to their rule.Chavez will use the democratic process only as long as it solidifies his power.He wants to be Castro and we all know what happened to Fidel’s opponents.
Chavez’s efforts are rather clumsy so we laugh at him.

jellybelly on November 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Hugo Chavez is an interesting person, clearly he’s not a force good in the world (the state media, political oppression), but so far he hasn’t directly overwritten an election result, which is more then his friend Fidel has done for freedom.

amazingmets on November 25, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Sighs…

…he already tried to forcibly take over in a military coup in the early ’90’s. I’m betting the bleeders that taught you in school failed to mention that part of history. But hey, the end always justify’s the means, right Obama lovers?

yubley on November 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Having an opposition mayor in the capitol is a real setback for Hugo. It is a very powerful office to loose.

lexhamfox on November 25, 2008 at 1:05 PM

So his opponents won 5 out of 22 and are happy about it?

*shakes head*

Yeah but the 5 were in the most populous parts of the country, so it actually means something. Also, a number of the supposed Chavistas who won their seats back broke with Chavez over the Constitutional reform that he lost awhile back. They are still seen as members of his party but not loyalists. Most of the really die hard loyalists lost, which sends a clear message. If you are not opposition, at least be independent. This is an election where looking at a color map doesn’t tell you much.

Plus, I don’t think the opposition is ready to govern yet. Their field is still thin, if we are talking about real reformers with experience, not just has beens back for one more try. Their organization and unity is uneven. Some of their loses were due to stupid disagreements (personality, not ideology) that led to multiple oppo candidates running against a Chavista.

MargaretMN on November 25, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Pining for the fjords.
I laugh every single time. Funniest sketch ever.

It’s 1:11 pm, Eastern Standard Time, and time for that penguin on top of your TV set to explode!

radjah shelduck on November 25, 2008 at 1:11 PM

Badger40 on November 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM

well, i would love to visit venezuela. 10 years ago it would have been perfectly safe, but now, it’s not even safe for visiting family. all of which used to live there. my aunt’s last visit was dangerous in her descriptions. family still living there told her to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, and if so, have a family member drive you. never get in a cab. they may drive you to a kidnapping set-up. … totally nuts. of course, i won’t go now. we’re praying he’ll be out in a few years. even then it may take some time to settle things down a bit.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 1:30 PM

by “he”, of course, i meant chavez.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 1:32 PM

I am very surprised he did not rig the election! I wonder what stopped him? Ya think he is honest, maybe?

naa, somone stood in his way, but who and how?

allrsn on November 25, 2008 at 1:33 PM

really and truly believed that nothing even remotely similar could happen here in the U.S… neither did my wife and her family… but with this populist election of the far-left obama… it sure has made things eventful at family gatherings, let’s just say. however, i think this was more about obama’s charisma and his race… i think obama will always be mythical to some, but not live up to any of his campaign promises. i hope- our family hopes.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 12:12 PM

O yes it can, keep your eyes open.

allrsn on November 25, 2008 at 1:34 PM

jellybelly on November 25, 2008 at 12:26 PM

good answer. also note that chavez has stacked the venezuelan supreme court in his favor. there is also only 1 house of congress in venezuela… also stacked with chavez supporters. there are no checks and balances…

a man named rosalez ran against chavez in the last election and lost. he is the primary opposition leader and a governor to one of the states in venezuela. chavez has accused him of sedition and attempting to assassinate him. it’s just an excuse to remove rosalez… that is how a socialist dictator gets things done. no big switch from radial communist leaders of the past.

here’s the thing. hard-line socialists have learned that overt changes/revolutions have much less chance of succeeding, so they do it more carefully… more politically cautious. just because chavez is not seizing power like castro, does not mean he does not have the same ambition to rule venezuela as a socialist autocracy, for life.

hillary clinton could not get nationalized healthcare back in the early 90s, but it has still been coming in smaller pieces with programs like S-CHIP and a few others. the socialist agenda is more slow and plotting these days.

just think of fannie mae and freddie mac. call it socialist and you’re some kind of right-wing nut… but it is “subtle socialism” at work and these type of social-”ist” changes are gaining momentum.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 1:42 PM

Hey Chubby! How’s that oil revenue stream coming along?
Hahahahahahaha!!!! Think the Russians are going to refinance your military equipment purchases?

GarandFan on November 25, 2008 at 1:47 PM

allrsn on November 25, 2008 at 1:33 PM

do a little digging on-line. there’s plenty of information about elections that chavez has rigged in the past. my wife was part of the nation-wide strike against hugo chavez back in ’02. the entire country shut down. it was in response to a referendum vote to remove chavez from office. everyone knew they were voting against chavez. there was huge support to remove him from office… and low-and-behold… chavez won.

who knows why elections are changing now. our family thought chavez would win the referendum last december, but he didn’t. there are international observers to the voting process that probably have something to do with it. it could also be chavez’s arrogance that he is certain he has the country in his pocket.

we’re now expecting that he will find a way to stay in power after 2012. even tho he lost the referendum to the people, he’ll still declare some sort of emergency power and/or manipulate the constitution and stay right where he is. it’s what we’re hoping against, but would not be surprised to see.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Thank goodness he has his singing career to fall back on.

vcferlita on November 25, 2008 at 2:03 PM

Ay, pobrecito Hugo…they don’t want him for life.

nor on November 25, 2008 at 2:26 PM

eh, I still quit buying Citgo gas and oil products. I dont care who wins and Russia can go suck wind.

johnnyU on November 25, 2008 at 2:47 PM

Quick, someone get Sean Penn his binki and blankey.

ThePrez on November 25, 2008 at 2:59 PM

Lets see, under Chavez oil production is collapsing, consumption is increasing, and the hummer is now the national car. By the way the regions he lost were poor areas that were a bedrock of support, and oil rich areas that are the key to the countries wealth. He won in a lot of places with sparse populations, so ignore the 17 wins out of 22.

rob verdi on November 25, 2008 at 4:18 PM

Next up? Ecuador

LibertyBoyNYC on November 25, 2008 at 4:33 PM

there are international observers to the voting process that probably have something to do with it. it could also be chavez’s arrogance that he is certain he has the country in his pocket.

thedude on November 25, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Then its a good thing the observers are doing thier job. Its also a good thing people like Rosalez is standing up to him. I expect Chavez will still find a way to lock into socialism and prevent the people from speaking thru the vote.

I keep telling people: if you want to see the future of America, watch Venezuela.

fannie mae, freedie mac, and ACORN tell a big story. Then there is the current bailout, soialized medicine, Hillery saying she want to nationalize our oil, Polosie saying NO drilling, Obama saying he want to bankrupt the coal industry thru taxes, writing law from the bench, and on and on.

allrsn on November 25, 2008 at 4:58 PM

I love that photo. Is there one with Sean Penn wearing an identical getup?

Hening on November 25, 2008 at 8:38 PM

so is that an evil communist parrot, kind a like the evil Nazi monkey in Raiders of the Lost Arc?

rob verdi on November 25, 2008 at 10:08 PM

Mr. Chávez, who has been in power for 10 years, has focused on raising political consciousness across disenfranchised parts of society.

Too bad you can’t eat political consciousness. If you could, he’d be doing fine. Nothing like an empty stomach to focus your mind on what bull**it sounds like.

smellthecoffee on November 26, 2008 at 12:54 AM

Sighs…

…he already tried to forcibly take over in a military coup in the early ’90’s. I’m betting the bleeders that taught you in school failed to mention that part of history. But hey, the end always justify’s the means, right Obama lovers?

yubley on November 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

I don’t mean that he’s an advocate of democracy, rather that he preserves the facade far more seriously then others. I don’t know how he’d react to a personal overthrow, I don’t see him sitting it out quietly. Hugo Chavez as leader has played along with the rules of democracies.

I’m by no means an Obama lover, I voted McCain and am proud of it.

amazingmets on November 26, 2008 at 1:09 AM