Final opinion polls before today’s referendum in Venezuela over whether to remove all term limits on elected officials, give the country’s president a slim lead.
If Hugo Chavez wins it will mean he can stand for re election as many times as he wants. Although the outcome is far from certain, opposition parties have lost ground and popularity and are relying on student activism to rally the “no” vote. This month Chavez celebrated 10 years in office but he says he needs another decade to carry out his self-styled socialist revolution. With a lot riding on the poll the president reacted strongly when an EU deputy called him a dictator. “I think it was a lamentable and dishonourable remark by this European politician,” said Hugo Chavez, “ but it should not damage our excellent relations with the government of Spain.” Several European Union MEPs have been sent to monitor the proceedings. Spain’s Luis Herrero was asked to observe by an opposition party. It is reported that among his remarks he criticised the Venezuelan electoral commission. He was subsequently expelled from the country.