[JURIST] Venezuelan voters approved [press release, in Spanish] a constitutional amendment [text and results, in Spanish] abolishing presidential term limits in a national referendum [JURIST report] Sunday. President of the National Electoral Council (CNE) [official website, in Spanish] Tibisay Lucena reported that the amendment passed with 54.36 percent of the vote [El Universal report, in Spanish] and went on to congratulate Venezuelans on the high voter turnout and orderliness of the voting. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [official profile, in Spanish; JURIST news archive] declared victory and announced that he will run again in 2012. Chavez said that he is primarily happy with the result because it will allow the government to focus on the three R's – revision, rectification and revolutionary reinvigoration – by combating insecurity, corruption, wastefulness, and bureaucracy [El Nacional report, in Spanish].
Venezuelans rejected a similar measure in 2007 [JURIST report] when it was included in a package of sweeping constitutional reforms. The constitutional amendment was passed [JURIST report] by the Venezuelan National Assembly [official website, in Spanish] last month but had to pass the referendum before taking effect. The vote has divided the country with thousands gathering in Caracas to protest [JURIST report] the amendment earlier this month and supporters submitting a petition signed by almost five million people [JURIST report] endorsing the amendment late last year.