Chavez wins presidential re-election by narrowest margin to date

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By Powell Wright

It may seem inconsequential to the average American college student, but to many interested in political science, October 7 held a particular relevance.

Hugo Chávez of Venezuela’s United Socialist Party won his fourth term as president after defeating Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Justice First Party.

This election marked the smallest margin of victory ever for Chávez, only claiming 55 percent of the popular vote.

Since taking office in 1999, Chávez has pushed Venezuela towards what he calls “21st century socialism.”Venezuela is already known for its leftist economic values, including the expropriation of many private Venezuelan farming industries.

Despite this, the government’s call for “democratic values” is constantly in question.

Chávez is not explicit in his plans, but many news sources, including the New York Times, have made clear predictions on what the next six years could bring for Venezuela.

Some believe there could be a new wave of expropriation against more private companies. Chávez has already purchased several once-private markets throughout Venezuela in order to provide cheaper national food prices.

The problem with Chávez’s plan, however, was that the government could not sell and produce food as efficiently as private Venezuelan farmers once could, resulting in major food shortages in 2010.

Chávez also may plan to create thousands of grassroots community councils to encourage local democracy and communal business.

Such a plan, however, is expected to be expensive, and could be hindered by a decrease in government spending and a recent devaluation of currency.

Despite such obstacles, the government may be playing a much larger role for smaller Venezuelan communities over the next six years.

Perhaps the biggest change could be to Venezuela’s constitution. Chávez organized the adoption of a new constitution in 1999, and could call for even more changes.

If Chávez were to die in office, a new election would be held open for anybody to run, including opposition. Chávez may want to change this provision to allow the soon-to-be Vice President, Nicolás Maduro, to take office in case of his death.

Some things, however, never change. Venezuela is likely to maintain its both positive and negative relations in global politics. Cuba will continue to be Venezuela’s ally in the oil trade, while the West can only hope the welfare of Venezuela’s citizenry does not deteriorate.

The changes to Venezuela may seem small, but will have a lasting economic and social effect for South America.

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