Chavez Loses Vote in Upset

Foes dance in the streets
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Dec 3, 2007 2:57 AM CST
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gestures early Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, during the press conference in Caracas where he acknowledged his defeat in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – In a stunning upset, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lost a referendum that would have allowed him to run for president as many times as he pleased. Foes danced in the streets as results were announced early today. Venezuelans rejected the sweeping measures 51% to 49%. "This was a photo finish," Chavez told reporters, adding that he has "heard the voice of the people and will always continue to hear it."

He added: "Let's be calm. There is no dictatorship here." Critics feared the constitutional changes would have granted Chavez unchecked powers to impose a socialist state. Other reforms voted on yesterday would have created a new type of communal property and would have handed Chavez the power to pick local leaders. "We've put a stop to the socialist authoritarian project," said one opposition leader.