According to the Venezuela Press (as translated by Google):
A page VenezuelaPress.com we have reached the following results:
NO: 6.534.648 NO: 6,534,648
SI: 5.864.560 SI: 5,864,560
Dif: 670.088 (5,4%) Diff: 670,088 (5.4%)
Estos números son con el 89% de las actas escrutadas, así que podrían cambiar. These numbers are with the 89% of minutes escrutadas, so it could change. Nuestra fuente indica que estos números vienen directo de la sala de totalización del CNE. Our source said that these numbers come directly from the room aggregation of the CNE.
Caracas Chronicles has been reporting for the past half hour that the referendum went down to defeat. But I’ll stress that this is an unofficial result.
Update: Still no official word on the result. But Reuters, which was basing its early reports of a Chavez victory on the word of government officials (meaning: Chavistas) is now playing a more neutral line that “Venezuela is locked in a tight vote.”
Update: I’m monitoring the comments in this post at Caracas Chronicles. It seems to be the only place with any kind of real time updates. Where are the 24-hour cables news nets on this story?
Update: There’s a video stream here. Whatever is going on doesn’t look good.
Update: Results are being announced. So far, the NO side is winning each question on the ballot.
Update: NO has won. Chavez has lost.
Update: Roughly, NO won 51% to 49%. Hugo Chavez is on Venezuelan TV doing something he hasn’t had to do before — deliver a concession speech. I’m watching on the link above. My Spanish is terrible, but it’s obvious from the look of the man that he’s unhappy with the result. Any Spanish speakers in the house tonight, feel free to translate Chavez’s speech in comments.
Update (AP): An encouraging result but does it matter? The EU constitution was rejected in referendums by European voters and that hasn’t killed the EU dream/nightmare. When tyrants want power, they keep pushing until they get it. Although this will, at least, delegitimize whatever Chavez has planned next.
Update: To answer AP, a NO vote is certainly better than a SI vote, and that Chavez is actually conceding is…surprising. For a while there, the video that was coming out of Caracas made it look like a coup might be underway or that Chavez might be considering declaring martial law and nulling the vote. And he may have considered that for all we know. If he did and was talked out of it, or he didn’t and decided to respect the vote (for now, anyway), either is a healthy sign, however short lived it might turn out to be.
This vote is different from the EU votes in one respect, its directness. Whether this means anything depends to a great extent on Chavez and whether he finds a way around the vote. It also depends on what the Venezuelan people do. They have handed him a serious defeat in front of the whole world. But he has until 2013 to undo this election and get himself made president for life. He lost tonight, but I doubt that he’s finished. Can he recover? Hopefully, the answer to that question will be the same as the one that a majority of Venezuelans delivered this time: NO.