Though the vote was close, and the results may still be disputed, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lost an important referendum that would’ve given him sweeping powers to transform Venezuela into the Bolivarian socialist republic he desperately wants, including infinite terms as President.
So far, Chavez has been magnanimous by conceding defeat and accepting the results. Since his term doesn’t expire until 2012, and all levers of power are firmly in his hand, anything can happen until then. There could well be another referendum, changes forced through parliament, or an outright coup. Chavez, like all megalomaniacs, is reluctant to cede power that he thinks is divinely his. He will find a way to stick around, even after he’s worn out his welcome. I’ll be wary of Chavez till then.
On the upside, most Venezuelans, including many Chavez supporters, have decided that the concentration of power in the hands of one man is a sure path to tyranny.