Sunday, 15 February 2009

Key Facts About Venezuela's Referendum

This is a list of key facts about today's referendum ballot in Venezuela.

1) QUESTION: The 75-word question does not mention the abolition of presidential term limits.

''¿Aprueba usted la enmienda de los artículos 160, 162, 174, 192 y 230 de la Constitución de la República, tramitada por la Asamblea Nacional, que amplia los derechos políticos del pueblo, con el fin de permitir que cualquier ciudadano o ciudadana en ejercicio de un cargo de elección popular, pueda ser sujeto de postulación como candidato o candidata para el mismo cargo, por el tiempo establecido constitucionalmente, dependiendo su posible elección, exclusivamente, del voto popular?´´

Translation: ''Do you approve the amednment of articles 160, 162, 174, 192 and 230 of the Constitution, carried out by the National Assembly, that increases the political rights of the people, in order to allow any citizen currently in office and elected in a public election to run again for the same post for as long as people want?´´

2) DETAILS: If voters pass the measure (50 percent of all votes plus one vote,) the nation's constitution will be amended to scrap term limits for elected officials. That would allow Chávez to run for re-election either near the end of his term in late 2012 or early 2013, or recall his term to get elected as early as the end of this year.

3) POLLS: Polls open at 6 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. NYT) and close when everyone who is in line at 6 p.m. local time has voted. The country has 16.5 million registered voters. Abstention rates were around 40 percent in the past election for local officials in Nov. 2008 and 44 percent in another constitutional referendum that Chávez lost in Dec. 2007. First official results are expected about 11 p.m. local time.