Venezuela Votes

Chávez takes his first defeat, and the world watches for what's next

The panic set in on Sunday evening when news started to trickle out of Venezuela's National Election Commission, which is dominated by allies of President Hugo Chávez. Referendum returns indicated that Chávez's package of constitutional changes, including the elimination of presidential-term limits, would narrowly lose. Inside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Chávez--who had yet to lose an election since winning the presidency in 1998--was initially furious. But soon enough, he accepted the loss. And his calm concession did Venezuela--in fact, a whole continent whose leaders have had a habit of defying the will of the public--a service.

What will Chávez do...

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