Venezuelan president admits defeat in referendum - extended

In Hungary

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday admitted defeat in a referendum on constitutional changes held on Sunday.

According to the National Electoral Council, 50.7% of voters voted against the changes with 49.3% in favor. The turnout was 56%, said the council. Over 16.1 million voters were registered to cast ballots on whether to change 69 provisions of the nation’s 350-article constitution, and whether to allow indefinite presidential reelection as proposed in the referendum.

Venezuela’s opposition accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of seeking power for life by putting the reforms to vote. Meanwhile, Venezuelan Defense Minister Gustavo Rangel Briceno said that the army would back whatever the result of the vote, because, it was approved by all the nation’s political forces. The army deployed 110,000 troops to maintain order and security for the national referendum.

Venezuela is scheduled to hold a referendum on Sunday to decide whether to change 69 of the constitution’s 350 articles.

The following are some basic facts about the referendum.
Over 16.1 million registered voters will go to 11,132 polling stations in the referendum. A total of 10,213 biometrics identification machines have been positioned together with indelible inking to prevent the possibility of double vote. Observers from about 40 countries will be able to travel throughout the country to monitor the electoral process. More than 150,000 trained people from the Armed Forces and the national reserve forces together with some 300,000 troops from other army units will join in the efforts to guarantee the security in the voting process.

Some of the changes to the constitution to be put on the vote are:
--To reduce the official workday from eight hours to six hours.
--To change the minimum age for eligible voters from 18 to 16.
--To establish a fund to pay social security benefits for workers in the informal economy who make up about 45% of the country’s total labor force.
--To raise the percentage of the electorate needed to petition for referendums.
--To lengthen the presidential terms from six years to seven years and elimiate terms limits.
--To call for popular participation in government „for the construction of a Socialist Democracy.”
--To add three new classes of property to the current private and state property. They are social property, belonging to the people as a whole and may either be held on their behalf by the state or assigned to people of a determined area by the stat; collective property, which is assigned to a particular group; and mixed property, which would exist as combinations of social, collective, state and private property.
--To give the president the power, with the approval by the majority of the parliament, to establish federal territories, municipalities, provinces and cities.
--To prohibit foreign funding of associations with political aims. (

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