Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez won a key referendum today that will keep him in office for as long as he wins elections, Reuters reports. After years of debate, Chavez supporters voted to abolish term limits that would have ended his rule in 2013. The reported margin of victory, 54% to 46%, was bigger than expected after polls gave Chavez only a slight lead.
The outcome increases support for his anti-US and socialist policies, but the global credit crunch may limit his power to spend oil money on increasing his influence. Still, his splintered opposition suffered a huge loss after making gains in recent ballots. Now, as one pro-Chavez demonstrator said in Craacas, "the future of this country is in the president's hands."