[On Saturday, Chavez] urged Venezuelans to see vote as a referendum on him.”It’s black and white — a vote against the reform is a vote against Chavez,” he said in a state television interview.
Reading leftie listservs and blogs today shows some sense of unreality among Chavistas, some of whom are determined to make this into a victory… somehow. Or that will be a victory once Chavez regroups, yes, that’s it, this defeat was a victory because it means he will regroup and then win.
Well, no. Chavez won re-election last December by 20%. He lost Sunday’s election by 1.5%. Thus, his support has dropped drastically, no matter what kind of happy face his supporters might wish to put on it.
His own loose cannon behavior in the final days before the referendum may have done him in. This would include repeatedly interrupting a speech by the Spanish foreign minister, saying advisers to the Columbian president want war, and that the US better not question the vote if he won else he’d cut off oil supplies – these might not have been well-received by moderates. Comments like these are aimed at his left flank – but they already supported him. However, the voter in the middle might well have thought, if he’s getting like this now, what will be be like in 20 years if he keeps getting re-elected? So they voted no.